“The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” by Catherynne M. Valente
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Fantasy
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this book for quite a while. I heard about it shortly have I started book blogging but never had a chance to pick it up.
I had really high hopes for the book. It sounded like a fantastic journey to a new world with creatures from old stories, almost like a reinterpretation of fairy tales. Not to mention, other reviewers compared the story to The Phantom Tollbooth and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. All of that sounds incredibly fun.
Unfortunately I didn’t think the book lived up to my expectations. Yes the book “felt” like The Phantom Tollbooth and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It had that bizarreness of a new world. Everything is so odd and upside down. The book captured that perfectly. The book fell flat on capturing the magic of a new world. That thing that illuminates the new world and brings it to life. It never drew me in and made me love the world or the story. [I’m really thinking I may have just been in a bad mindset to read this book. It was far too fantastical for me. I think I’m a bit burned out of fantasy stories right now.]
Ignoring my grouchy mindset, the book was pretty interesting. I’m not super familiar with old fairy tales but I recognized enough to know that was the feel the author was going for. While the story is like a fairy tale, it’s modern spin on it. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t read the book but the narrator and story seem to be fairly self aware which is interesting.
The bottom line? I didn’t love it but the book is an interesting take on fairy tales and fantasy worlds.