February 16, 2012

Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1) by Catherynne M. Valente
Format: Hardcover, 247 pages
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure
Published May 10th, 2011 by Feiwel & Friends
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Rating: *4.5 out of 5
From Goodreads:

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.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making is a short, but intriguing and charming book. It is the story of a girl named September, who in true fairytale fashion, goes off on an adventure in Fairyland where she is faced with an exciting but dangerous world filled with exciting but possibly dangerous characters.

What stood out most to me was the writing.  It is in 3rd person, with an often ominous narrator.  The writing was similar to the writing in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.  In a way, this kind of made me feel like you never really get to know the characters too intimately, they are kept distant from the reader as they go on their adventures.  I was okay with this, and thought it made the reading experience more unique but maybe not as enjoyable as it could have been.

I think what I enjoyed most from this book was the creative and colorful cast of characters that September meets on her journey.  I also really loved the world building in this book, although it take some concepts from traditional fantasy stories, I thought it was still really unique and well done.

Overall, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making is a thought provoking book, that should not be limited to middle grade readers.  It has gotten great feedback from readers of all ages, and I think older readers can appreciate the literary devices the author uses more than younger readers.  I would highly recommend it to fans of the writing in A Series of Unfortunate Events and to fans of middle grade books in general.

*To clarify on my rating, even though I think this book deserves a 5+ out of 5 based on writing, story, and all that literary jazz, it was not the book for me.  You know a book is good if it's blurbed by Neil Gaiman.  But if based on my personal interest in the book, I gave it a 4 out of 5.  Although I can see the book is brilliant and magical, the writing style did not completely work for me.

And just for the heck of it, here's my favorite quote :)
“One ought not to judge her: all children are Heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb high trees and say shocking things and leap so very high grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one. But, as in their reading and arithmetic and drawing, different children proceed at different speeds. (It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.) Some small ones are terrible and fey, Utterly Heartless. Some are dear and sweet and Hardly Heartless At All. September stood very generally in the middle on the day the Green Wind took her, Somewhat Heartless, and Somewhat Grown.”

-Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making

No comments:

Post a Comment