Book Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own Making

Posted September 13th, 2012 by in book review / 0 comments

Title: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Publisher: Macmillan
Publication Date: May 10th 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 256
Source: Library
Genres: fantasy, magic, young adult
View Book At Goodreads
“One of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century.”—Time magazine, on the Fairyland seriesTwelve-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. With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when author Catherynne M. Valente first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a Publishers Weekly Best Children's Fiction title for 2011.

Glorious. I was lucky enough to see this at the library after reading a few of it’s reviews at Goodreads.com and knew I just had to take it home and devour it. I was so glad I did. Anyone who grew up with  The Faraway Tree, Chronicles of Narnia & A Series of Unfortunate Events, and enjoyed them, will enjoy this.

Fairyland takes you an a mad-cap adventure starting with young September (who was born in May) being carted away, quite willingly, by the Green Wind and his leopard. From the outskirts of Fairyland, where her new friend the Green Wind must take his leave, she befreinds A-Through-L (known affectionately by Septmeber as Ell), a wyverary (his mother was a wyvern, his father a library) who stays faithfully by her side for most of her fairyland adventure.

As with the Chronicles of Narnia, the story is narrated in third person and the narrator often breaks off to speak directly to the reader. The character names and descriptions of the environment brought to mind The Faraway Tree stories, in the rich details and fantastical elements. In an interesting subplot near the end, the author includes a hint of the Persephone mythology from Ancient Greece as well, although you do have to know the mythology of that story to pick up on it, I believe.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own Making is a must for anyone who likes a quirky, fun fantasy that takes them back to their childhood, but is still engaging as an adult. It’s a fun, twisty-turny trip down memory lane whilst being a beautifully written story of it’s own.

There will be a second Fairyland story coming out October 2nd called ‘The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. I personally can’t wait to read it.

5 Stars

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