It has been a year since September saved Fairyland and returned home, without her shadow, but slowly gaining a heart (which is proving to be an uncomfortable experience). She’s wondering, ever so patiently, when she’ll be called back to Fairyland. Her friends must all be waiting for her there, and surely this time there will be no pesky quests to go on?
But while September waits, the magic is disappearing in Fairyland, slipping underground into the darkness where the shadows play…
Catherynne Valente, author of The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, is one of the most unique voices in current fiction. I want to use words like “quirky”, “whimsical” and “creative to describe her storytelling – but after reading this second book in her Fairyland series, I can’t help but find those words… well, a little dull in comparison. Valente is a true wordsmith, her Wonderland-esque stories elevated by playful, sophisticated prose. She doesn’t assume children should be talked down to, while remaining effortlessly readable, and is further proof that “children’s books” are worth reading at any age.
September has grown up a lot since the first book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. There’s the issue of having a heart now, which as Valente points out is a big (and metaphorical) part of growing up. She has to deal with the effects of her choices from her first adventure, and there is a lot more darkness and confusion in this story for that very reason. However the charm of Valente’s original Fairyland is still there, and other than a little misstep at the end (where the plot is suddenly lost in a jumble of words and characters), this sequel is even better than the first. I can’t wait to read more of September’s adventures.