Tuesday, June 14, 2011

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

How I found this book: Several reviews suggested that it might be a good thing to read - it seemed so zany, so odd, that I simply had to give it a try.

So... a girl named September is bored with her life, and a person by the name of The Green Wind comes past her house on his leopard and takes her away to Fairyland. Fairyland is both stranger and more familiar than expected, with customs-officers and a city made of cloth and countries where it's always autumn. A witch asks September to go and find her magic spoon for her, as the wicked Marquess has taken it away. September agrees... and with the allied help of "persons" as varied as a Key, a Wyverary (cross between a wyvern and a library), and a soap golem, she embarks on a grand journey which takes her far beyond the capitol city and into far greater issues than a stolen spoon.

I love this book. Its narrative style seems a little stifling in the beginning, but widens out later; either that, or I stopped minding it. It's a slow start, but speeds up in time. The locales and persons described in this book are amazing and detailed, quite beautiful. September knows the sort of thing that's supposed to happen on an adventure like this, and she's quite aware of her situation at all times, comparing her present experiences to her past experiences on Earth.

There are some very weighty issues being tossed around in this book... freedom vs. safety, normalcy vs. adventure, perseverance and hope... I expected this to be a frivolous little narrative, all fluff and fun, but it certainly isn't. Bad things happen. Worse things can happen too. Behind its cotton-candy exterior this book hides some hard stuff.

Thoughts on the ending: is this a good end or a bad end?

I disagree with a few of the sentiments expressed in this book. A) September is required to lie (among other requirements) before she's allowed into Fairyland. B) September is told, and later agrees with, a statement of a questionable philosophy regarding the necessity of clothing. I'm not offended much by either, in the context, but I'm just dropping these statements out there.

Age rec: 8 and up, though maybe with caution for the younger end.

1 comment:

  1. This one has been on my pile for weeks now--I need more time to read! Wah!