Posts Tagged With: Catherynne M Valente

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

Title: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
ImageAuthor: Catherynne M Valente
ISBN: 978-1780339818
Publisher:  Corsair
First Published:  Feb 2012 (hardback) / Oct 2012 (paperback)
No .of pages:  336

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
September is a twelve-year-old girl, Somewhat Grown and Somewhat Heartless, and she longs for adventure. So when a Green Wind and a Leopard of Little Breezes invite her to Fairyland – well, of course, she accepts (mightn’t you?). When she gets there, she finds a land crushed by the iron rule of a villainous Marquess – she soon discovers that she alone holds the key to restoring order. As September forges her way through Fairyland, with a book-loving dragon and a boy named Saturday by her side, she makes many friends and mistakes. But while she loses her shadow, her shoe and her way, she finds adventure, courage, a rather special Spoon, and a lot more besides . . .

I can’t rate this book highly enough.  It is so lovely and fantastical and magical that my inner child just ate it up.  I’m still a little conflicted about the target audience as, for all intents and purposes, it’s a children’s story, but then nestled in amongst the almost lyrical story are words like vichyssoise and talk of diplomatic immunity.  My overall thought is that it is a children’s book, but it’s intended to be read out loud by a nominated adult, who, whilst telling this wonderful tale, will get just as much from it as the utterly engrossed listener.

September is one lucky girl.  You know that moment, where your imagination runs away with you, and you are taken to a far off world where everything is colourful and magical and nothing like every day, boring life??  Well, September gets to live that!

One day, she is going about her usual tasks and then from nowhere appears the Green Wind riding on a leopard.  Without even a backwards glance, September climbs through the window and embarks on a journey to Fairyland and finds herself having in the craziest adventure.  Along the way we meet some loveable (and some not so loveable) characters, my favourite being Ell the “Wyvery” (the offspring of a Wyvern and a Library – it all makes sense when you read it!)

The story is engrossing and hurtles along at a very fast pace throughout, although sometimes, I just couldn’t turn the pages quick enough!  September’s journey through Fairyland is not all fun and games though, and she has some serious decision making to do on her way, along with a battle or two for survival.

The book leaves the story open enough for September to continue her adventures in Fairyland and I am so pleased to know that there is at least one more adventure for her to have, although I’m definitely hoping for many more.

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The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M Valente


Another great cover, and another long title! ‘The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There‘ follows on from ‘The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making‘, which I reviewed last year. It’s probably not necessary to read the 1st, if you’ve picked up this one, but it would certainly add to the experience, so I would recommend going back if possible.

Both books are quite difficult to describe, and I don’t think my reviews do them justice. They are, in essence, wonderful fairy stories, with some very imaginative creatures and characters. Catherynne’s style is very lyrical, and no matter what strange thing she is describing, the words seem to flow from the page.

Most of the important characters from her earlier adventure are there, but are not themselves. In the world under Fairlyland, she meets their shadows, almost the same, but with differences – some subtle, some not so subtle. Her own shadow, taken from her during that first adventure, is in charge, and September feels that things are not right, and it’s up to her to put it right.

Amongst the strangeness and magic, there are serious themes and truths, and this felt like a more grown up book than the 1st. September is now a young teenager, and throughout her adventure, she somehow manages to go through those usual teen thoughts and situations, including learning to think about others, her plans for her future, and her first kiss.

I don’t see these books mentioned enough, and I think they have the potential to be future classics – younger readers will enjoy the magical strangeness, whilst those a little older will start to see a little deeper. There are many layers, and I’m sure I will find more on re-reading.

Recommended for readers of all ages who enjoy falling into a book and getting lost there.

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairlyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M Valente


I first noticed this book when I saw an advert for it, and I requested a review copy just because I loved the cover! The publishers very kindly sent out a copy, and thankfully the contents didn’t let me down.

On face value, this is a fairytale for children – September is a twelve year old girl who’s taken away by a Green Wind and a Leopard, and taken to Fairyland. She meets some strange characters, gets involved in some strange incidents, and goes on a quest. However, things are not as they should be, and September may just be the person to fix things.

This is not, however, *just* a tale for children, as there’s plenty on offer for adults. It’s an imaginative world, where the usual rules don’t apply, and nothing is really as it seems. The writing style is lyrical and rather wonderful, and it’s easy to lose yourself in the world, and almost hope to visit!

It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland and Labyrinth, with a proper plot running through, and some colourful, memorable characters, such as the wonderfully loyal dragon who believes his father is a library! I’m hoping Catherynne returns to this world soon, and I’d love to see it made into a film.

Recommended for children, and those young at heart – lose yourself in this weird but delightful world.

Published by Corsair, paperback June 2012

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