the Little Red Reviewer

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland, by Catherynne Valente

Posted on: September 28, 2012

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, by Catherynne Valente

published in October 2012

where I got it: borrowed ARC from a friend

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A year has passed, it’s time to visit Fairyland again. It’s got to be better than Nebraska, where the other girls at school aren’t interested in being September’s friend, and food is purchased with ration coupons. The sooner she gets back, the sooner she can be with the best friends a girl could ever ask for: a book loving wyverary and a shyly beautiful marid.

After a rough and lonely landing in a glass forest, September notices drastic changes in her surroundings. None of her friends come to greet her, magic is being rationed, and the few magical creatures she meets are terrified of her.  Maybe she’s just landed in a provincial area of Fairyland? But no, Fairyland has changed, and not for the better.  Humans don’t belong in Fairyland, and when they leave, they aren’t supposed to leave things behind.  When September last visited, she left her shadow behind, and it’s been up to all sorts of trouble.

For the last year, while September was doing sums and spelling, her shadow was living the high life in Fairyland-below.  Known as Halloween, the Hollow Queen, her shadow rules Fairyland-below, where there are no rules, no bedtimes, no lost friends, and and un-attached to their other selves, the shadows are suddenly free to live their own lives, and do everything they’ve never been able to do before.

Ell the Wyverary and Saturday the Marid didn’t greet her when she landed in the glass forest, but their shadows were waiting for her when she landed in Fairyland-below.  Are these the same Ell and Saturday that September had so many adventures with? Shadow-Ell and Shadow-Saturday are elated to be freed of the shackles of their other selves, this is the first time they’ve ever had any control over their own lives.

As Halloween hosts her revels, and her invisible assistant pulls down more shadows from Fairyland-above, Septembers feels more and more that something is wrong. Why can’t she just reunite with her shadow? Why won’t anyone listen to her?  why doesn’t anyone seem to care about the damage that’s being done to Fairyland-above? If Halloween is such a reckless, horrible person, does that mean that deep down, September is too?

There is so much more I want to tell you about this story, I want to describe every amazing person and creature September meets during her quest to save Fairyland, I want to tell you everything.

But I won’t.  Where would be the magic in that? You’ll love me more if I let you discover it for yourself. Feel the smile growing on your face as you read,  giggle at the puns and wordplay, feel the lump in your throat as you step with September through the labyrinth of growing up.

If you’ve read Valente before, you know the lyrical language you are in for. You know the magic she creates on the page, the way she masterfully transports the reader to another world. The way the story is put together is heartbreakingly beautiful.  If you regularly read this blog, you know I’m not into YA, at all. I loved and devoured every page of this book because it’s not a YA book, it’s a story for anyone who is a young person, and anyone who ever was a young person.   Younger readers will become fascinated with September’s adventures with A Sybil in an Elevator, a quiet Dodo, a Goblin market and a Fairy inventor, and us adult readers will see the story for what it is: a love letter to allegory, wordplay, and what we leave behind when we grow up.

If you enjoyed the first fairyland book (read my review here), The Girl who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There is a must read, and although the magical feelings in this book are a little different than the first, I found I enjoyed this new one even more.  And again, because this is a Valente, it’s got an end that rips your heart out while at the same time inspiring us to savor everything we have.  If you’ve never read Valente, this is a great series of hers to start with.  If you’re like me, and you scoff at YA, this series might get you to change your mind.

interested in learning more, and maybe seeing Cat Valente? She’ll be touring in the US during October, check out the Tor website for more info and for excerpts of this The Girl who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There.

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11 Responses to "The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland, by Catherynne Valente"

I just read the first book. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the second! Great review.

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I’m sure it’s obvious that I’m a huge Valente fan. I pick up everything I can find by her, she’s amazing.

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Hi
Didn’t fully read this review because I haven’t read The Girl Who Circumnavigated yet. I’m saving it!! (not for much longer though….)
Lynn :D

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hopefully the review hasn’t got too many spoilers. And these are the kind of books where the style of the writing and all the wordplay and puns are just as fascinating as the plot. So even if you do get some spoilers, when you read it you really won’t feel like anything has been spoiled.

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ha, I love it an unspoilery spoiler! I’m going to love reading this and the first one. I can just tell. Plus – I already read a lot of YA so don’t need converting! I’m all excited to be finally reading a Valente! I went back and read your review – Goblin Markets…. what more can you ask for really!
Lynn :D

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omg, I LOVED the goblin market, i want a whole novel based on that chapter. Lynn, these books are going to change how you look at literature, they are astounding and amazing and just glorious!

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Can’t wait to read this! I read the first one in January, and I think it’s the best new book I’ve read all year.

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isn’t Valente just amazing? I know you are going to simply adore this new one, I thought it was even better than the first.

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