All posts for the month April, 2014

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland…Book Review (Catherynne M. Valente)

Published April 27, 2014 by ElisaChristy

Video Review of this book can be found here.

The story follows September, a girl living in America during a war of some kind, as she is taken away to Fairyland by The Green Wind where she gets roped into a quest to usurp the evil ruler The Marquess. Sound familiar? Well trust me, it isn’t.

“All children are heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb tall trees and say shocking things and leap so very high that grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That’s why it takes so long to grow one.”

The book assumes the reader has read many other fairytale books, and while it doesn’t necessarily turn a fairytale on its head, it does execute the story in a slightly different way than you might expect.

September arrives at Fairyland and at first she is given a quest to collect a Witch’s spoon from The Marquess, on her way she meets a Wyvern – or a Wyverary as he believes his father was a library – a Marid and many other fairytale creatures. Her quest finally leads her to the lonely gaol at the bottom of the world where all the clocks belonging to children from Earth who have come to Fairyland are. The story is amazing, but the real fun in this book comes from the writing style and seeing how this Fairyland fits in with the Fairyland of every other book in its genre.

“In all her after-school practices her coaches had never impressed upon her the importance of practising her butterfly stroke while being dropped from a great height without any ceremony at all into an ocean.”

The book is narrated in the third person, so every so often the narrator can speak to the reader and tell the reader things that Spetember herself does not yet know. The writing style itself is poetic and fairytale, but to change it would change the entire shape of the book and you realise as you read it that this is the only way it could be written, with this amount of poetry and fantasy.

“When one is traveling, everything looks brighter and lovelier. That does not mean it IS brighter and lovelier; it just means that sweet, kindly home suffers in comparison to tarted-up foreign places with all their jewels on.”

We also see how this world can fit in with every other fantasy book of its kind, as we learn how children can be ravished and stolen away or they can stumble into Fairyland through wardrobes and secret doors, but there is no telling how long each person has in Fairyland, as each child there has a clock ticking their time away and eventually it must reach midnight and the child be sent home.

The book is part of a trilogy and the ending of the first one does set up the beginning of the next one, even if you do not read the second, the first is definitely worth searching for.