keeperThe Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland #2) by Catherynne M. Valente
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows—and their magic—to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.

Fans of Valente’s bestselling, first Fairyland book will revel in the lush setting, characters, and language of September’s journey, all brought to life by fine artist Ana Juan. Readers will also welcome back good friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. But in Fairyland Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem. . . .

This is my first 5-star book of 2013! I love Catherynne M. Valente. I’ve added pretty much her entire backlog to my TBR. Her books are written with such elegance, woven with humor and sadness in equal parts, and this novel is no different. September has returned to Fairyland, but things aren’t as she left them. Time moves differently in Fairyland, and it has been years since September last took her trip there, while in Nebraska, only a single year has passed. September is no longer Heartless, which is a good thing, but also opens her up to heartache and betrayal, which she experiences in equal doses. She makes a new friend in a Night Dodo named Aubergine, and meets the shadow versions of many people she knew: A-Through-L, Saturday, and the part of herself she sacrificed to the Glashtyn, Halloween, Queen of Fairyland Below. The shadows resent their counterparts in Fairyland Above, and Halloween is using a terrifying invisible specter called the Alleyman to steal shadows from Above. The shadows are devoted to her, because now they can live like never before, and magic is freely available to the shadows of Fairyland Below. Only the shadows, however; September herself can’t access magic without a book of rations, something she’s familiar with in WWII America. So while she is comforted by the familiar faces of Ell and Saturday, they are not as they seem, and September knows this, but she tries very hard to quiet those thoughts. As Lemony Snicket would say, she’d come to regret that decision.

Halloween has no interest in becoming September’s shadow again, and many of the other liberated shadows want to remain free as well. But Halloween’s siphoning of magic is making Fairyland crumble, and September must stop her before Fairyland merges into September’s world and ceases to exist entirely. September embarks on a journey and meets so many fabulous people. I marvel at the extent of Valente’s imagination. This book made me laugh with its dry wit, tear up with it’s life lessons (one quote in particular stuck with me and I’ll post it below), and just generally get caught up in the lives of the shadowy citizens and otherwise of Tain, Fairyland Below’s capital. If I thought I loved the first book, I loved this one even more, and I am actually really grateful to Ashley, who gave me her $10 card for Changing Hands in Arizona, enabling me to buy this one in hardcover. Seriously. Go out and buy these books. You absolutely will not regret the purchase.

My favorite quote: “September had never been betrayed before. She did not even know what to call the feeling in her chest, so bitter and sour. Poor child. There is always a first time, and it is never the last time.” How profound and true is that? Do you remember your first experience of betrayal? I do. I’m tearing up just reading it.