Friday, September 23, 2011

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
by Catherynne M. Valente
Illustrated by Ana Juan

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday. (description from

What a glorious adventure. Valente has managed to merge the feel of an old fairytale with the sarcastic realism of Lemony Snicket. September is a girl who is both immensely loving and emininetly practical. While feeling terrible about leaving her mother, she cannot pass up the adventure of a lifetime! To enter fairyland...who would say no?

While in Fairyland, September meets many interesting and unique characters. She travels to new and wondrous places. She is tasked to retreive magical objects.

While there have been many tellings of a child that enters the fairy realm, Valente makes this feel new and fresh. The characters are intriguing and unlike those I've read before. The aspects of Fairyland are amazing and unheard of in other tales. Each aspect of this story was just another layer that drew me in. One of the best things, though, was that even as I knew that September's story must end well, I appreciated some of the terrible things that she went through to come to a happy ending.

This was no Disney fairy tale.

This was real life and purely magical.

Full disclosure: Review copy received from Zieghost media and the publisher

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