Book Review: Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente

Welcome to Fairylandfairyland

So far, I’ve read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making – hereafter referred to as Fairyland #1 – and The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There – Fairyland #2 – and thoroughly enjoyed both of them.

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…

September is a fabulously refreshing protagonist, one free of gender constraints and other tropes typical of fairy tales. Valente has a brilliant grasp on language, and manages to weave a tale of adventure, magic and bravery, that will captivate children and adults alike.

 ‘Why should I care about your First Kiss?’ he said. ‘You can kiss anyone you like. But if you sometimes wanted to kiss me, that would be all right, too.’

This is exactly the kind of message we want our children to learn. In fact, some adults could do with being reminded of such a very important fact. Valente incorporates so many of these valuable lessons in her wonderful stories, ones we should all take to heart. Though the world is highly original and imaginative, September encounters several situations and characters that are incredibly relevant to real life. It’s no wonder this series has been described as a charming modern fairytale.

Fairyland #1 captured my mind, and Fairyland #2 stole my heart. At the risk of losing more vital organs to this series, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two is most certainly on my list, as is the fourth novel, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland (slightly less of a mouthful), which will be released next month.

Welcome to Fairyland. It’s like the Hotel California, except you might actually have to leave at some point and get back to real life, unfortunately.

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