The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1)

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1)

 
5.0
 
4.5 (1)
811   0
Write Review
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1)
Genre(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
May 10, 2011
ISBN
9780312649616
Buy This Book
      
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.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0  (1)
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0  (1)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0

Valente Deserves Every Bit of Hype

What I Loved:
Though Catherynne M. Valente's novels have been on my radar for a while now, I've honestly been a bit terrified to read them. They're so lauded by readers I respect highly and I really feared that I would be the black sheep of dissidence. I'd heard they were strange and that doesn't always jive so well with my tastes, but, oh, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is just the right kind of strange.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland recalls many classic tales: Alice in Wonderland, the myth of Persephone, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to name a few. I make these comparisons not to suggest that Valente's tale lacks in originality in any way, but that she cleverly weaves a story full of allusions to those classic tales. Though I don't usually do this, I'm going to structure much of my review around these comparisons, since The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland has been reviewed by many people already, and I feel free to do my own weird thing with it.

The tone and the sheer madcap adventure-filled feel of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is one hundred percent Alice in Wonderland. Though there was little that specifically seemed directly out of Carroll's classic absurdist tale, his influence is visible on every page. The girl stumbles into a magical land and bounces from quest to quest, with the ultimate goal of unseating an evil female ruler, who destroyed the benevolent queen. Valente fully embraces the absurd, but, where Carroll's story lacks for me—characterization, Valente shines, but I'll talk about that more later.

The Persephone myth works as a frame story to September's adventures. There are clever references throughout, but the main purpose is to explain why September will eventually return. I love the way that Valente set up the very end. It's simply perfection, bringing the rest of the plotting full circle. Sometimes it feels like the weird novels are so spontaneous and surprising because the author didn't know what was going on either, but it's very apparent that Valente knew exactly what she was doing.

I have two points to make with reference to the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The most overt similarity is that one of the characters traveled to Fairyland by means of wardrobe, an obvious omage to Lewis' tale. However, there's another comparison to be made, a bit subtler. Like Lewis' classic, September travels to a magical world during wartime. Her father is off fighting in WWII and her mother works as an engineer. She feels lonely and doesn't understand what's going on very well. Valente turns September's adventures in Fairyland into a neat platform by which to make observations on the nature of war.

As I said, there's so much more to Valente's tale than those structural similarities, all of which I love a lot. Her characters are a delight, though I must admit this is one of those times where the supporting cast is much more dear to me than the MC. September is a delightful girl, it's true. She has a lot more strength and graciousness than the average heroine, and is much more empowered in her story than any of the ones in the three classic tales I mentioned previously, which is utterly fantastic. She just can't compete with her sidekicks, though.

Those who know me well will probably not be surprised to learn that my favorite character is A-Through-L, affectionately known as Ell, the wyverary. He's a wyvern, sort of like a dragon, but also the son of a library. He knows absolutely everything about anything found between the letters A through L, which is immensely helpful on a journey, and he's the most delightful companion a girl could want through Fairyland. I also love Gleam, a lantern over a century old and desperate for adventure, and Saturday, a creature similar to a genie who I'm really looking forward to getting to know better in the next installment.

Even the evil Marquess is a marvelously well-drawn character. Often villains take a back seat to the good guys, lacking complexities in books with otherwise sophisticated characterization. Valente, however, made her villain one of the most complex characters in the piece. She gives the Marquess a reason for the way she is, and makes her at least a little bit sympathetic.

On top of all of that, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. Her writing is a veritable feast of deliciously underused words. Though I do think this might be a tough read for children, it would be a perfect choice for parents to read aloud to their kids, though they may end up explaining quite a few terms. This is a story that will delight children, I think, but adults even more so, in a rather different way perhaps.

The Final Verdict:
Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is absolutely marvelous, and I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone who delights in verbiage, characterization, fairy tales, or any of those stories I mentioned above. With this one book, Valente goes on my auto-read list.

Was this review helpful to you? 

User reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0  (1)
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0  (1)
Already have an account? or Create an account
Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland (A Room with Books review)

Wow. Just…wow.
Okay, maybe not just wow, but I am slightly awed by the amazingness that is this book. Sure, it has a pretty cover, but somehow it still manages to sit on the shelf all unassuming-like with such a magical story captured between its pages.

I’m not going to lie, when I first started (shall we call it The Girl? Yes, I think we shall) The Girl I wasn’t all too sure I’d like it. The writing wasn’t something I was at all used to, same story with the illustrations, and everything just seemed terribly, terribly strange. Somewhere between the flying leopard’s and the talking Wyvraries strange became a very good thing, though.

Now, I imagine you peering at your computer/phone screen and thinking to yourself “she’s gone right mad, hasn’t she” (if you think like a faintly British person, at least), but you’re wrong. I’ve simply been swept up by an amazingly spectacular story. I know my adjectives seem to be running away from me, but I can think of no other way to express my love for The Girl.

I’m sure many people think all the best fairy-tales have already been written but I’m happy to say that is most certainly not the case. It seems to me it’s a bit harder for things to become “classics” these days, but by golly, if I had the power I’d go around stamping every copy of this book with a “This Book is a Classic” certification. It is simply a book that deserves to be read by anyone. This is a book for every child’s wildest, most adventurous dreams as well as a book to revive the child-like wonder that we often lose with age.
The Nusthell: I’m not sure how much more plainly it can be said: The Girl is a book that needs to be read right now so it has that much longer to live in your heart and your memories. This is a book deserving of a shelf where it can live happily, be read many times, passed down through generations, and possibly acquire all the things that come with a well-loved book such as jam finger prints and smudgy edges.

Was this review helpful to you? 
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Glow
When thrift-store aficionado Julie discovers a series of antique...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Stolen Secrets
After an abrupt move across the country to San...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Tracker's Canyon
Thanks to his dad’s coaching, sixteen-year-old Tristan is one...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Book of Fire
Life outside the domes is not possible. At least...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
This Body Won't Break
The truth doesn’t always set you free. Orphaned as...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Gears of Fate
Centuries have passed since the Fey conquered Earth, forcing...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Mother Cary's Butter Knife (Shadows & Light)
The smallest of three brothers, Keenan Mowat had a priceless...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars
Did you know that the earth is covered in three...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Three Sides of A Heart: Stories About Love Triangles
You may think you know the love triangle, but...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
The November Girl
I am Anda, and the lake is my mother....
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Approximately Yours (North Pole, Minnesota)
Danny Garland is so out of Holly’s league. And...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Penny Lost
Penelope Grace, usually forgotten under the shadow of her...
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Chasing Eveline
Sixteen-year-old Ivy Higgins is the only student at Carmel...
 
4.7
 
5.0 (2)
Good and Gone
When Lexi Green’s older brother, Charlie, starts plotting a...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13
Where do light bulbs go when they burn out? ...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Somebody's Baby
Ever since Sloan won a reality singing competition, her music...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Dune (Dune Chronicles #1)
 
5.0
"Its a classic. Not much more I can add."
On A LARP
 
3.3
"In ON A LARP, Sid is known to be a hacker after a past school prank, and she's a good..."
Code Name Verity
 
4.3
"The year is 1943. The setting locations are England, and Nazi-occupied France. The book is told in a..."
Good and Gone
 
3.7
"Road tripping with a purpose, Good and Bad is a journey, the reader won't soon forget. Lexi's brother,..."
Glow
 
5.0
"'There's a certain kind of light that I should have been afraid of all along.' Radium was discovered..."
Release
 
4.0
"Wildly original--and completely realistic--Release is a whirlwind of a tale, one that will leave you both completely confused, yet satiated...."
Stolen Secrets
 
4.3
"What worked: This is an amazing tale with an unique twist on the holocaust and the survivors. What I really..."
Somebody's Baby
 
4.3
"SOMEBODY’S BABY by Lurlene McDaniel is the perfect follow up to her novel LOSING GABRIEL, which I absolutely loved. I..."
White Rabbit
 
5.0
"Rufus just wants one day of semi-fun, something he hasn’t had since his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian, wrecked his heart. But then,..."
The Last Namsara
 
3.3
"Asha, daughter of the king, is feared and admired as the greatest dragon hunter. She is nicknamed the Iskari, after..."
The November Girl
 
4.0
"Anda lives on an island on Lake Superior. For most of the year, she’s there with her father, trying to..."
Approximately Yours (North Pole, Minnesota)
 
5.0
"It’s been years since Holly was in North Pole, Minnesota, the place she loved with her grandmother. But now with..."
Daughter of the Burning City
 
5.0
"Daughter of the Burning City was an enticing, mysterious and compelling novel. It tells the story of Sorina, an illusion-worker..."
Revenge of the Witch (The Last Apprentice #1)
 
4.0
"A mature middle-grade fantasy—sporting a medieval feel and steeped in an eerie English folklore ambiance which, at times, drifts over..."
Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack #1)
 
4.7
"This first-person present-tense piece of historical YA fiction begins a bit like a Charles Dicken’s work—eighteenth-century London, poor destitute orphan,..."
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)
 
5.0
"I just really really love The Raven Cycle series! It was an amazing series and I just adored it! ..."
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3)
 
5.0
"Blue Lily, Lily Blue was another great addition to The Raven Cycle! It was an amazing novel filled with fantasy,..."
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
 
5.0
"I really loved The Dream Thieves! It was a fun, magical and captivating novel. The Dream Thieves continues Gansey's,..."
The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1)
 
5.0
"I really enjoyed reading The Raven Boys. It was filled with mystery, magic and adventure. The Raven Boys had..."
Echo After Echo
 
4.3
"WHAT I LOVED: Something tells me more than a few actresses could read this book and say afterwards "yep, some..."