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

Corsair (Constable and Robinson)
7 June 2012 / ISBN 9781780338330
Fantasy 1940s/Tweenage and up


Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

September is twelve years old and lives in Omaha with her mother who works in a munitions factory; her father is away at war. She is fed up with the way things are so when the Green Wind arrives and asks if she wants to go to Fairyland she accepts in a flash. But all is not well there; the queen is dead and in her place rules the implacable Marquess. September is going to need all her wits about her to sort things out, and manage to have some fun as well, of course…

As a child I read quite a number of Victorian and Edwardian children's books and this reminds me very much of them. Think Alice in Wonderland with a twist and you have something of this special book, but by no means all of it. Fairy tales are in right now and this mixes the traditional with a wry, modern style of humor that raises this above a simple story for young readers. There is much to enjoy here, from the lush prose to the unexpected characters, many of which tweak our expectations of witches, dragons, fairyland and others. The story operates on more than one level basically being a fun read but exploring themes such as growing up and having expectations challenged. September starts off as "heartless" but soon realizes that compassion is the key to solving the problems of Fairyland. If all that sounds like too much just sit back and revel in a tale of witches' spoons, a sinister purple-haired Marquess, a loveable dragon and more than one wind. I've long wanted to read this author's highly acclaimed work and am pleased that at last one of her books is available to readers outside the US. One to cherish.

Reviewed 2012