The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Personal Copy
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound
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.
I loved this one, you guys! LOVED IT. I read the beginning of a review for the next book in this series over at The Book Smugglers, so I knew I had to pick it up. The tone of the writing is formal but a little mocking, with September as a little bit of an unreliable narrator. This one is biting and funny and heartbreaking, and there’s no clear villain, not even the Marquess. People die, or are taken, or disappear, never to be seen again. The mythology of how Fairyland connects to Earth is lovely, something I haven’t yet seen, and I know my fairies. This is going to be a short review, because so much happened, and what’s important is what September learns on her journey, about others and about herself.
I bought this one, which isn’t something I often do with a book I haven’t read, because I love fairies and dragons and impetuous twelve-year-old girls who are Somewhat Heartless. And I ended up enjoying myself more than I thought I could, even though the ending, while happy enough, made me cry. The imagery of the different places–a town made of fabrics, and one of baked goods–was incredible, and the isolation I felt when September sailed the Sea made me so lonely for her. There’s a cute little love story, or the beginnings of one, in this too, and it is very sweet. What made this novel for me, though, was the writing and the style of it, so I have a few quotes I’ve taken from the paperback edition of this novel. Check this one out immediately, then head over to Tor.com and read the short story about Mallow, The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland — For A Little While.
“All little girls are terrible, but the Marquess, at least, has a very fine hat.”
“It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.”
“I suppose that would be true if the earth were round.”
“I’m reasonably sure it is…”
“You’re going to have to stop that sort of backward, old-fashioned thinking, you know. Conservatism is not an attractive trait. Fairyland is a very Scientifick place. We subscribe to all the best journals.”
“I…I don’t think that’s how evolution works…”
“Oh? Your name Charles Darwin all sudden-true?”
“No, it’s just-”
“It’s Survival of Them Who’s Best at Nicking Things, girl!”
“I say, let them as wants to evolve do it and soak the rest.”
“[…] Witches present brewed a bouillabaisse of a long and interesting marriage: five children […] and a friendly sort of unfaithfulness for all involved”
“Oh, Ell! No, no, don’t be dead, please!”
“Why not?” said Iago. “That’s what happens to friends, eventually. It’s practically what they’re for.”
““One can always bear more love,” the Wyverary purred.”