Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is the storybook you’ve been wishing for. Full of wonder, creativity, and a fantastically opinionated narrator’s expressive take on the magic and mayhem of fairyland, this book contains quite the story indeed.
Ah, fairyland. You’ve grown to expect flowers and stardust and tea cakes, haven’t you? Think again! Valente puts a spin on the magical realm of the fairies that is unlike anything you’ve seen or read before. Fairyland is wonderful and dangerous and magical and frightening all at once. It is made up of contradictions and confusions and absurdities. The worldbuilding in this book is very reminiscent of that in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Nothing is quite as a seems, and every page is home to something brand-new and innovative.
Main character September is brave, clever, and adventurous—the perfect fairyland candidate! September has read enough stories to be able to guess how this one will go, and yet every plot point still comes as a surprise. As she travels through Fairyland, September meets some unusual friends, namely a part-wyvern-part-library (a wyvary, if you will) called A-Through-L and a marid called Saturday. Together, they must avoid harm from the cruel and fickle Marquess, whose own story is far from predictable. Valente steers away from that which has been done before, preferring to breathe new life into old tropes and ideas.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making has a strong fairytale feel, but it is self-aware enough to avoid being didactic. The book is about growing up, discovering new places, learning new things, meeting new friends, and becoming just a little less Heartless, hopefully, along the way.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is far from being Catherynne M. Valente’s only book. Catherynne has written many works for both adults and children, and she’s also continued the Fairyland series. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, and The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home are all available now! You can stay up to date with Jessica on her website, Twitter, and Instagram.
You can pick up your copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making from Booktopia, Book Depository, Dymocks, or QBD, or you could support a local bookstore. You can also check it out on Goodreads.
Have you read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Making yet? If so, let me know what you thought! If not, what’s the most creative story you’ve ever read?
Title: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Publication Date: May 10, 2011
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
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.
*This post contains affiliate links*