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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1) by Catherynne M. Valente (2011)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (2011)
by Catherynne M. Valente
Hardcover Edition
Publication Date: May 10th, 2011
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
buy a copy via Amazon.
synopsis via 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.

My Thoughts:
Valente brings us the absolutely spellbinding world of Fairyland in he Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Twelve-year old September is swept by the Green Wind while washing teacups and brought into Fairyland for a unique retelling of the Persephone myth. The characters, the creatures were fascinating, and the story testing the limits of my imagination every step of the way. I see the magic of Fairyland, the beauty of Valente’s writing, but at times it just felt a bit too random, a bit too confusing for me to follow. While reading, I often felt disillusioned–I find myself asking, “Did I just read what I think I just reading? Or did I get lost somewhere along the way?” Never the less, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book for fairytale lovers. It will blow your mind if you have the imagination big enough for it.

Story (Where is this Story Going??):
I knew it was a Persephone retelling, but I had no idea what to expect. Valente’s whimsical style is quite obvious from the beginning–it reads like one of our beloved “Once Upon A Time” fairytales with an omnipresent narrator who doesn’t hesitant to address the reader. From the title, I knew she would be sailing (but calling it a ship might be stretching it a bit), and I was waiting and waiting for the sailing to happen–it certainly took a loonnng while. Even the plot felt unclear at times: to explore Fairyland? to leave Fairyland? to get a sword? to save her friends? to overthrow the Marquess?
I have to say the story wrapped up really nicely at the end though, like a pleasant fairytale.

The Marquess
The villain who hides a shocking secret of her own that adds another layer to the story. I’m grateful that she does have a backstory, and is not evil just for the heck of it. She also is the source of many questions: is she a kid? or an adult stuck in a kid’s body? And are her actions really evil?
She’s a bundle of mysteries I would love to unravel.

Disillusionment:
This was the main reason why even 250 pages turned into a hard struggle. It felt like another Wonderland where nothing seems to quite make sense; I was also reminded of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach (the sailing part) and Terry Pratchett’s YA Discworld novels.
I was left in confusion a huge chunk of the time: “What? A cross-breed between a Wyverin and a LIBRARY? Is there another definition of library that I don’t know of, or does she mean a physical LIBRARY? What? She’s turning into a TREE??”

I Wanted To Have a Dictionary Beside Me. Is This REALLY a Middle-grade, Or Am I Just Stupid?:
I wonder if it’s a middle-grade simply because there were words I didn’t know. I rarely even have that problem with YA reads. I am feeling slightly ashamed right now. *hides in a hole* I need to expand my vocabulary!
I am not sure if it’s my mind the the gutter (or me reading too many Harlequins), but a twelve year old being “ravished” just doesn’t sound right even though I am aware of its multiple meanings.

Ending
The ending redeemed the story for me, it just tied together nicely. Not exactly a cliffhanger, but the ending left me with many questions. Are they pulling a time paradox on me?

Overall, it was a magical story that just fell a bit short for me. But I know many others love it, and if you have a big imagination–you certainly will as well. It’s a very unique book, with a lovely story and a delightful little girl.

Rating: B

Spoilery Thoughts I Need To Get Out of My System
So unless she starved herself, she would be forced to stay?

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