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


Title: The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Author: Catherynne M Valente

Rating:  ★★★★

On the Shelves: Young Adult fiction> Fantasy

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.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author 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. (Goodreads 2014)

I wish you the best that can be hoped for, and no worse than can be expected.”

If I had to describe this book in one word, I would say it is “Stunning”.

While, yes I do mean the beautiful cover art, I also mean the story inside it. But yes, special shout out to the gorgeous artwork of this book. This is literally going to be a short review, purely because there is not much else to say apart from “it was great, read it!

Valente has created a traditional fairy tale world, which follows the instructions and rules of fairyland which we all find ourselves familiar with, but she also puts a very interesting twist on the land itself. The story follows September as she is asked by the Green Wind to come to fairyland to help them to stand up to the Marquess, who challenges her to retrieve a talisman for her. Along the way, as things go in these stories, September becomes friends with an unlikely crew including a Wyvern who is more of a bookworm than a dragon, and a boy named Saturday.

In a style similar to Alice in Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz and even the Phantom Tollbooth, Valente creates a distinctly recognisable and enjoyable world. This book felt like a warm hug to me. Sometimes you just need to read something which at first seems like a simple idea, and could be brushed off as a children’s book- but this was so much more. This is the type of book you read while wearing comfy and cosy warm knitted socks, curled up in the couch in your favourite hoody with hot chocolate in a mug.

It did read a little bit slow at times, but I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of fairy tale adventures. I definitely want to read more of Valente’s work. I have read the sequel to this, “the girl who led the revels there…” and I plan on getting my hands on the third book soon- along with Valente’s Deathless.

I’m not lost, because I haven’t any idea where to go that I might get lost on the way to. I’d like to get lost, because then I’d know where I was going, you see.


6 thoughts on “115. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

  1. Sometimes the hardest reviews to write are those where the book was so fantastic, but you did a great job. I loved the comfy couch and cozy socks analogy, because that’s exactly what it feels like! I so want to read this now. 🙂

  2. I feel like I’ve been hearing about these books for a while, but yours is the first review that’s convinced me that I need to finally read them! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the first book so much. Maybe it’s time for a library visit so I can get my hands on a copy!

  3. I love this book! Catherynne Valente seems to have such a playful love of language, and she can appreciate the magical view of life inherent to childhood while still treating her audience like intelligent people. That’s a hard balance. The comfort of the familiar that you pointed out is made even better by the sense of humor that hides in characters’ interactions. (I almost want to say it’s a sense of whimsy, but I’m tired of that word, and it doesn’t quite fit…)

    Now you’ve made me want wooly socks and cocoa and all the sequels.

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