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

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. ValenteThe Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
Illustrated by Ana Juan

First Published: 2012
Pages: 344 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: Fairyland #2


In the kingdom of Fairyland-Below, preparations are underway for the annual Revels . . . bur aboveground, the creatures of Fairyland are in no mood for a party.

It has been a long time since young September bid farewell to Fairyland, and she is excited to see it again; but upon her return she is shocked to find that her friends have been losing their shadows, and therefore their magic, to the kingdom of Fairyland-Below . . . It spells certain disaster and September won’t stand for it. Determined to make amends, she travels down into the underworld where, among creatures of ice and moonlight, she encounters a face she recognizes all too well: Halloween, the Hollow Queen. Only then does September realize what she must do to save Fairyland from slipping into the mundane world forever.

Come and join the Revels with September and her friends. But be warned: in Fairyland-Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem . . .

Still in post-novel afterglow here (this is what happens when you’re more interested in books than people). I really love this little series, it’s like a slice of childhood, I just want to drizzle cream and chocolate sauce all over this book and gobble it up. But that would ruin a very beautiful paperback (and probably my digestive system too) so instead I will simply love it and stroke it and tuck it carefully back on my bookshelf to treasure for all time. Like, seriously, if I could do the Gollum voice that is exactly what I would be doing right now.

And now that I’ve scared all the normal people off I’ll get onto the review. . .

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (henceforth to be refered to as ‘Revels‘, because the title may be gorgeous but it’s also long and I’m a slow typist) is the second book in Catherynne M. Valente’s children’s series, Fairyland, and is all the more worthy of those 5 stars up there for being a sequel that doesn’t disappoint. In fact I might even prefer it to the first book, which was one of my absolute favourite reads of last year.

The protagonist, September, is a year older, and matured from a heartless child (all children are heartless according to the narrator) to a young teenager with a freshly grown, raw and inexperienced heart. She’s spent the time since her first visit to Fairyland being the lonely, excluded kid at school, missing her father (away fighting in WWII), and spending her free time reading up on Fairytales and mythology. So by the time the book starts she’s just as impatient as I was to jump back into Fairyland and meet up with her old (and odd) friends there. Only when she gets there Fairyland isn’t quite as she remembered. Magic is now being rationed, just like sugar back in her homeworld, people’s shadows are disappearing and September believes she know’s why and is determined to stop it.

Now, I’m going to admit that it took me a good few chapters to fall in love with the first Fairyland book – maybe because I wasn’t used to Valente’s style and the old-fashioned fourth-wall-breaking narrator, maybe because the story seemed to wonder aimlessly about for a long while before the plot was revealed – but I had no such problem with Revels, I jumped straight in and fell in love immediately. We’re taken to different parts of Fairyland in this book, notably Fairyland-Below, and meet a whole host of new characters, but everything that I loved about the first book is in there too. There’s Ell the Wyvern who’s half-library, and Saturday the Marid, the characteristic quirky wonderful narration, beautiful chapter illustrations by Ana Juan, and then the book throws in new stuff like a ‘night dodo’ called Aubergine as well!

More than any of these wonderful Fairyland characters though, I loved September. I enjoyed her practical attitude in the first book but it was impossible for anyone to compete with Ell there as the breakout character. In this book I absolutely I adored her though. Her fresh new heart and extra year’s maturity add a slightly different tone to the book; it’s still quirky and brilliant, but it’s not just a rehash of the first book with a different enemy. September thinks of her parents more in this book, considers both her own and other people’s feelings more and tries to understand them. She’s still the same person as twelve-year-old, heartless, September, but she’s grown up, just a little and everything is more complex, less black and white, right and wrong, than in the first book. Instead of fighting the Marquis, September’s foe in this Revels is herself, or rather the shadow of her twelve-year-old self. And shadows are not inherently bad but simply the sides of ourselves we repress and keep hidden – ‘The Hollow Queen’s’ motivations are those September shares and sympathises with, her actions those September, were she less restrained and a bit more wild, could easily commit. It adds shades of grey to the adventure that I really enjoyed and left me guessing as to just how it could all be concluded.

But, and this will surprise no one I’m sure, it was concluded! And in a way I was really happy about too. The last few pages also won me completely over to the idea of a September/Saturday relationship in the future – he was very quiet in the first book and so harder to instantly love to the same degree as Ell or September, but something he said in the here just won me over completely. If only all men were as sensible and sweet and understanding as Saturday the world would be a totally better place.

Loved, loved, loved the whole book and cannot wait for the next one, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, which comes out this year in America, so probably next year in the UK. May have to bully a friend to airmail me a US copy.


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