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The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All The Way Home
Fairyland Series - Book V
Catherynne M Valente

Atom (Little, Brown)
1 March 2016/ ISBN
Teen /Young Adult /Ages 14 and up / Fantasy

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


September is free from prison and seventeen again, and by accident is also the new queen of Fairyland. But something has gone awry and a dodo’s egg has been broken, which means that everybody who was ever the ruler of Fairyland has now come back to life. Now September must fight for her throne against all contenders in a race; but the winner is not the first person past the finishing post (there isn’t one), but the person who can find the heart of Fairyland. Trouble is, nobody knows where this can be found, or even what it is.

This is the final book in the Fairyland series, and readers can expect the same fun romp as ever, filled with the most amazing and extravagant imagery. Billed as a book for younger readers, it can be enjoyed on several levels by people of various ages, and it is surely adults who will get the most out of it. September is more grown up now and has learned many lessons, but still has more to learn before she truly comes of age. These are lessons about love, dealing with various types of people, working as a team and knowing what she wants among other things. She also gets to see more of Fairyland as well as revisiting some people and places from the earlier books. Her friends and foes are all taking part in the race including Hawthorne the troll and the characters from the last book. The author allows her characters to change and grow; learning things about themselves and their world which makes them seem more real. We even get to see September’s parents and aunt at large in Fairyland, although sadly not very much; the odd chapter gives us a glimpse as to what they are doing, but mostly they are not mentioned, which is a pity.

I think anybody who has ever read a story where children visit a magical land wonders what would happen if the adults also went there! This minor point aside, there are plenty of fun and hugely imaginative things to read about, such as the race itself and all the various resurrected rulers. When two racers meet they must duel, and there are some very creative ways of doing this. In particular I loved the ending to this quintet of books, which was both unexpected and satisfying. This series might be over, but I will be looking out for whatever treat the author has for her readers next.

Reviews of other titles in this series

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in Ship of her own Making
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut The Moon In Two
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led The Revels There

Reviewed 2016