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 author Catherynne M. Valente 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.
I have had an ebook version of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship of Her Own Making for years, and never found the time to read it. However, since I’ve started getting into audiobooks – and saw someone praising the audio version of this book on Goodreads – I decided that, instead of reading it, I’d listen to it, as it wasn’t a terribly long book and I was looking for something that would take longer than a couple of weeks to get through. And I’m really glad that I decided to go that route, because otherwise this fabulous middle grade book would still be languishing on my Kindle unread. And that would be a crying shame.
I loved everything about this book, from the main character, September, to her Wyverary, to Lye the soap golem, to the world of Fairy itself. There was enough action and adventure to keep anyone entertained and engaged, and the author did a stellar job of reading her own story at a nice pace, with good voices for the characters and pleasing tone and inflection. I loved that this was your usual quest format, with your hero (or heroine, in this case) and her motley crew of sidekicks, but that things didn’t go as one might have expected them to, since this is taking place in the Otherworld. There were parts that made me laugh, parts that made me smile, and parts that made me teary-eyed, but it all came together in a book that I’d probably have no trouble re-reading at some point, assuming time allows.
One thing I do want to note is that, obviously with the audiobook version, I did miss out on the illustrations, so took some time to go back through and look at the chapter artwork after the fact so I could see them. And they are as charming and whimsical as the rest of the book, so I’m glad I did. I think they captured the feel of story extremely well.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland… is an utterly charming book. While it’s definitely a middle grade novel, there is plenty for folks of all ages to enjoy. It has a uniqueness to it that I haven’t seen in a while, and I can happily say that I shall be checking out the rest of this series as soon as I possibly can. If you’re like me and are late to the party, and haven’t yet read this book: what are you waiting for? Go do it now!