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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making [Paperback] [Jan 01, 1600] Catherynne M. Valente Paperback – January 1, 1892
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- Publisher : Much-in-Little (January 1, 1892)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 178033981X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1780339818
- Item Weight : 9.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.12 x 0.79 x 7.76 inches
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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For me, the language was too stilted and some of the "creative" descriptions were too contrived. September is a girl from 1940s Nebraska, but the language sounds very British to me. I've never known an American who used the words "shall" or "shan't" for "will" or "won't", or used "for" instead of "because". And the asides from the Narrator to the reader drive me nuts. They don't move the plot forward, and the tone is excruciatingly whimsical. Some of them go on for several paragraphs, and I get bored and restless before they're done. Some of them are designed to put the reader in the know while the characters remain uninformed. And they say so. Others read like self-indulgent "I know you must be just dying to know how I do this" nonsense.
However, I did say that I'm halfway through book 5, mainly because I like the world the author has created, and I like many of the characters. I like some of the ideas--sentient clothing and herds of stampeding velocipedes, for example. A wyvern whose father was a library--that's so weird it's brilliant. Characters that don't fit gender stereotypes--two thumbs up. A city made entirely of fabric and yarn that moves around at will--another great idea. More creative ideas and interesting characters abound in the other books of the series.
The story, like Valente's other tales, are quite odd and you surely must have the craving for something strange in order to appreciate it. The book is littered with dark themes and works more like a bildungsroman than a fairy-tale. September's journey is filled with pain and heartache. The series works as the destruction of innocence and childish expectations. When you are young, everything seems possible and within reach. As you get older, you realize that it is not. This is what September learns as the story moves on. Therefore, adults would appreciate the work, but children will not find it relatable. While, the funny happenings in Fairyland are quite amusing, the message that is being delivered will be lost to those who don't know any better.
Here we have a 12 year old child named September who's washing dishes while waiting for her mother (who's a whiz and fixes engines!) to come home. Her father's off fighting in the war. The Green Wind of Fairyland appears outside the kitchen window and asks her if she'd like to come along on an adventure, to which she heartily agrees, and they fly off on the Green Wind's leopard.
The Green Wind, through decrees of the Marquess, is not allowed in Fairyland so he gives September some advice before she begins her adventure, chief being "don't eat any fairy food." September attempts to follow this rule to the letter.
In her time adventuring, she learns of what Fairyland was before the Marquess took it over and when good Queen Mallow ruled. She meets the wyverary A-Through-L (though she's allowed to call him Ell), she comes upon many weird and wonderful sites and people, and gains one more party member in the marid, Saturday.
The Marquess eventually discovers September and demands she comes to her for a fetch quest and sends her through the land of Autumn, where September encounters some trouble but acquires the object she's been sent to collect. Then she has to make her way back to the Marquess, who is determined to make it difficult for September.
And that's all I wanna say about that. You wanna find out what happens next, give the book a shot. It's a lovely little read and will definitely appeal to older readers as well as delight younger ones.
Top reviews from other countries
September encounters allies like the literary Wyvern (not a dragon mind you) who tells (yes of course he talks) September he was raised by a library, though he only knows stuff from A to L, those being the volumes of encyclopaedia he was raised on. She also meets a soap golem, who gives her baths to clean her courage, which is of course not as "clean and new" as when she was first born and that "every once in a while, you have to scrub it up and get the works going or else you'll never be brave again". September is sent on a quest by the evil marquess to extract a sword from a dead forest, but of course she also throws many obstacles along the way. Who the marquess is and how and why she usurped queen Mallow's throne is something that comes to light in the first installment of the fantastically well-written fairytale.
It just gets a little dark and gory, and unlike conventional children's stories where children fall and hurt themselves with bruises and bumps, this one includes scenes of battle and bloodshed. Nonetheless, this novel is truly engaging and a welcome addition to the YA fantasy bookshelf.
I couldn't get it out of my head though. There was something intriguing in the long name I couldn't quite remember, the vague promises of travelling to a faraway land, and eventually I gave in and bought it on my kindle. Best decision I made.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a throwback to the time of fairytales with underlying commentary of a modern society. Toss in some lovely illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, and you have a book that will entertain all ages.
The story is about September, a lonely girl who get's whisked away to Fairyland, where she sets out to retrieve a wooden spoon from the Marquess, and then gets entangled in a plot created by the Marquess herself. On her journey she meets Ell the wavererly (a cross between a wyvery and a library, don't ask), an utterly funny character. She stumbles across fairyland, encountering all sorts of creatures, which is told through a brilliantly self-aware narrator voice.
On the surface, this book may remind you of Alice in Wonderland (which I have to say, was the book of my childhood). However, where AiW was a book purely for the story, and without the meaning or morals that came with books of that era, TGWCFiSoHOM (too long?) is teeming with them. Whether it's commenting on the loss of childhood innocent and the cruelty of children and childhood, or death and the future, or indeed modern society with its layers of bureaucracy that disguise the people in powers hidden motives, TGWCF (better?) has meaning to it.
And that makes it special.
I think Valente wrote the book with the idea that parents would read it with their children, thus layering the meaning under the fun, but as a teenager I would recommend it too. It was nice, reading a book where a message could be conveyed in an entertaining way that wasn't layered with sex, drugs and violence. And even without all of that, it remained just as thought-provoking
Sum It Up: A brilliant take on a fairy tale that will enrapture all ages. Totally amazing!
The book is as amazing as its title. There is such a clear, quirky writing style: it's all very whimsical, a little Alice in Wonderland like, full of weird logic, magical characters and always underlying threats of danger.
September is a wonderfully protagonist. She is brave but not afraid to cry, a little ill tempered sometimes and a little Heartless (but then all children are, according to the book's logic) and she is quite prepared for all the adventures one might expect in Fairyland.
And she gets them.
September makes friends with some truly strange creatures - a Wyverary (a kind of dragon bred with a library), a Marid, and a lantern that's 112 years old - she charms her way out of some situations, stumbles into others and faces down her own Death, all to save Fairyland.
While this could easily be another twee, Alice aspiring story, there are some darker moments that can be very creepy. September's adventures in the Autumn Provinces were a particular favourite, where she gets herself into a predicament that still makes me shiver to think about.
The villain of the story is not a disappointment either. The Marquess is equal parts charming and terrifying, and she has one of my favourite back stories to match as well. Her reasons for being rather awful are almost understandable, and it's sad to see how she got to be that way.
Another little detail I really enjoyed is the start of each chapter, which has a wonderful little diagram and a description of the chapter under the title (In which September meets...etc). It gives the book such a lovely, old fashioned feel that makes me want to gobble it up.
This is a thrilling start to what I imagine is going to a wonderfully whimsical and beautifully dark series, and I'd recommend everyone to give it a go, if not just for the narrative voice, which is superb.
I've been pondering this review for a while, wondering how much to say and what to give away. Fairyland strikes me as the kind of book you ned to read blind, knowing nothing about it and not knowing what to expect. That way in can knock you off your feet with its magic and general loveliness.
There are a whole wacky mix of characters in Fairyland, ranging from human to weather elements to Wyverns and lamps. They're all endearing and lovable, and I even liked the slightly darker characters that peppered the pages every now and then. Valente's writing is so beautiful and descriptive, it's hard not to get lost in Fairyland and experience everything September is experiencing.
Speaking of September, what a cool girl she is. She's clever and practical, and her heart is as big as Fairyland itself. As brilliant as she is, September isn't my favourite character - that title belongs to The Green Wind. Although he doesn't crop up in the book a lot, when he does it's well worth the wait for his appearance. He's one of the most magical characters to grace the page, and I just wish he was in it more. Maybe we'll see more of him in the sequel? I certainly hope so.
Fairyland's text is accompanied by amazing illustrations courtesy of Ana Juan, which alone are worth the book price. I couldn't wait to get to a new chapter and see which illustration would be waiting for me. My favourite is still the one that appears on the cover, which by now you've probably guessed is depicting September and A-Through-L the Wyvern.
I'm sorry this review is kind of vague, but I don't want to spoil any part of Fairyland. I want people to read it and get swept away like I did, and be surprised when a new kooky character shows up. This is fantasy fiction at its best, and I hope it's a big hit over here in England. I know it's gone down a storm in the US, so let's hope it gets the recognition it deserves over here too. Add this one to your wish lists immediately!
That said, there are some good ideas in here and a fair amount of fun along the way, so I will be giving the series another chance at some point.