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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Book rating: 03 Paperback Corsair

By (author) Catherynne M. Valente

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  • Publisher: Corsair
  • Format: Paperback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 138mm x 196mm x 28mm | 422g
  • Publication date: 7 June 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1780338333
  • ISBN 13: 9781780338330
  • Edition statement: Trade Paperback.
  • Sales rank: 126,944

Product description

September is a twelve-year-old girl, Somewhat Grown and Somewhat Heartless, and she longs for adventure. So when a Green Wind and a Leopard of Little Breezes invite her to Fairyland - well, of course, she accepts (mightn't you?). When she gets there, she finds a land crushed by the iron rule of a villainous Marquess - she soon discovers that she alone holds the key to restoring order. Having read enough books to know what a girl with a quest must do, September sets out to Fix Things. As September forges her way through Fairyland, with a book-loving dragon and a boy named Saturday by her side, she makes many friends and mistakes, losing her shadow, her shoes and her way. But she finds adventure, courage, a rather special Spoon, and a lot more besides ...

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Author information

Catherynne M. Valente began September's adventures in instalments on the Web; the project won legions of fans and also the CultureGeek Best Web Fiction of the Decade award. She lives with her husband on an island off the coast of Maine. She has written many novels for adults, but this is her children's book debut.

Customer reviews

By Stephanie Forster (Stepping out of the Page) 18 May 2012 3

I've been trying hard to put off this review, or rather, trying hard to think how to rate and review it - it's been very difficult for me. I think that the only thing I can do is say it outright - this is a truly fantastic book, but it's just something that I just couldn't get away with. If I had to rate my enjoyment of this book, it'd be around 2 stars, but if I had to rate the quality of the book, I can honestly say that it'd probably be around 4 or 5 stars.

This book is set in Fairyland and it is obvious that is where we are - the whole setting, the characters... absolutely everything in this book is magical. The writing was lovely - the imagery was very vivid without being overly descriptive. This book is so quotable - there were so many lovely phrases and ideas used throughout. I particularly liked the direct narration to the audience - it was strong, sometimes emotional and very easy to connect to the messages. There's nothing wrong with Valente's writing, it is very clear that she is talented.

September, our twelve year old main character is quite real, she has the inquisitiveness, the curiosity and the braveness of a child and it is good to see Fairyland through a child's eyes, it makes it even more special. It wasn't just September who was imaginative and whimsical though, the other characters we are introduced to are just as intriguing, if not more so. I absolutely loved the character 'A through L' (or Ell), a wyvern who was just so friendly, fun and totally loyal to September throughout her journey. A myriad of other supporting characters with equally bizarre names are scattered throughout the book and they are also very amusing.

So why didn't I enjoy this as much as I could? It was confusing. It was one of those things that just went over my head. It was all, quite frankly, nonsense, but it's meant to be - I just guess that's not for me. I think that thought that the separate sections are the stories were quite interesting and it did help me to follow things a little bit, but it was a bit too random for me and the jumping around from place to place, person to person, left me lost.

Overall, I really do not want to put anyone off reading this book - I think a lot of people will appreciate it and love it. Valente is a genius for writing this (extremely) creative piece of writing and I only wish I could've followed it more. If you're looking to get carried away into a fantasy world and meet lots of magical creatures, this one is for you. If you're easily confused, perhaps try a few pages until you fully commit to it. I will be posting an excerpt of the book on the blog tour soon, so hopefully then you'll be able to see for yourself if it's your kind of thing.

Review quote

A glorious balancing act between modernism and the Victorian Fairy Tale, done with heart and wisdom. -- Neil Gaiman An Alice in Wonderland for the 21st century... So effortless, so vivid, so funny. Every page has a phrase or observation to savour and her characters are wondrous creations. Sunday Telegraph Get swept away by this charming book Vogue Bundles of imagination and wry wit... This is a sophisticated world of forfeits, paradoxes and tricks. Financial Times A mad, toothsome romp of a fairy tale - full of oddments, whimsy, and joy. -- Holly Black Pure escapism Bliss magazine A whole esoteric world of whimsy - Alice meets the Wizard of Oz meets the Persephone story with a whiff of Narnia. Independent on Sunday Sweet fairytale, shot through with salty tears - magic! Like all the very best young adult novels, this is a book that can (and should be!) enjoyed by grown-ups too. -- Cory Doctorow If you haven't heard of Catherynne Valente, give it time. She's only 32, and she's writing at a furious pace. Valente brings fathomless inventiveness to her fiction. This is nominally a book for young adults, but it's definitely rich and strange enough for grown-ups, too. -- Lev Grossman