The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M Valente
|The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M Valente|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Mary Esther Judy|
|Summary: Utterly consuming and completely enchanting, you will get lost within its pages. And, along with September, the Wyvern and the Green Wind, it is a place you will happily and willingly want to revisit over and over and over… once you’ve worked out how to get home again. For children of all ages... and their wyverns.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: June 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
September has grown tired of life in her parents’ boring Nebraska home. She is twelve years old, somewhat grown and somewhat heartless and she is dreaming of adventure. So when a friendly Green Wind and a flying Leopard of Little Breezes blow past one morning, inviting her to Fairyland, of course she accepts. Upon arriving, September finds that Fairyland is under the iron rule of the cruel and relentless Marquess. But September is bright and bold and fearless; and she has certainly read enough books to know what a girl on a quest must do. September must fix things, and put everything back the way it should be. September makes her way across the strange and wonderful (and dangerous) Fairyland-scape with a book-loving Wyvern (a Wyverary) and a Marid boy named Saturday. Making new and very odd friends, many, many mistakes, losing both her shoes and her shadow, September wends her way with courage, adventure, a very special spoon and a key that never loses sight of her… And she finds so much more besides…
I’m going to admit straight out, I was first attracted to this book by the title and the stunning cover illustration. From page one, I was hooked. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland… is an exceptional mix of classic, traditional fairy tale and contemporary fantasy that blends seamlessly to create a story that will resonate within the reader for a lifetime. The charming illustrations by Ana Juan at the beginning of each chapter lend a real sense of place and action. The descriptions of the landscape and the adventure are compelling, rendering comparisons to Lewis Carroll or L. Frank Baum all too easily. But there is so much more here. Everything from this book seems very familiar when compared to classic fairy tales and children’s fantasy novels, but not at all familiar at the same time. It is unique. Valente has created a world of vibrant colour and texture that oozes out from between the covers. The lyricism in the writing is exquisite, with each word carefully chosen, each sentence carefully crafted. It is her use and obvious thrill of language that sets this story worlds apart, along with her ability to tell a tale that is riveting.
Her characters are truly amazing, well drawn and utterly entertaining. Each chapter introduces a new favourite, someone you want to keep with you. September may be difficult to warm to, in the beginning. She does seem, as the Green Wind describes her, Somewhat Heartless. But as the story develops, the reader develops a keen sense of exactly who September is, what motivates her, how she grows and how she gains insightful empathy to those around her. The interplay between the unlikely friendships that grow along the way is natural, although quirky and certainly unusual. As September gleans a full understanding of their plight, she uses that somewhat heartless-ness to its best advantage, in order to restore Fairyland and its occupants, for no other reason than that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland… may seem to be too complex, a picture of too much to allow you to take it all in, but nothing could be further from the truth. Utterly consuming as a story, it is true that you will get lost within its pages. And, along with September, it is a place you will happily and willingly want to revisit… once you’ve worked out how to get home again.
(I also need to add that Catherynne Valente has the most amazing website! Be sure to visit it for more on her amazing writing!)
For more journeys into that Other Land that we're absolutely certain doesn't really exist, so we should definitely go there; why not try The Windvale Sprites by Mackenzie Crook or The Haunting of Charity Delafield by Ian Beck.
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