The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making may very well delight, successfully melding all sorts of creatures and conventions culled from fairy tales and folklore. Author Catherynne M. Valente, best known for adult fiction, has blown the lid off her usual style with this book, which was initially written in installments online and went on to win a Nebula Award in 2010. It strongly brings to mind the brilliantly dotty, all-ages appeal of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The level of pixieish frivolity in this work is so severe that the following warning must be issued before we proceed any farther:
If you have a low tolerance for Whimsy, you are strongly advised to click away from this page. The book I am about to describe is groaning under the weight of literally hundreds of capricious constructs and is not for the overly left-of-brain.
There. You have been warned.
But if you think the fanciful tale of a girl named September who gets whisked away by the Green Wind and the Leopard of Little Breezes to Fairyland sounds charming, then yes! This might be the book for you.
If that is the case, peek in on September as she frolics with a Wyvern, parts with her shadow and is turned into a tree. Marvel at her pluck as she sets sail to save her new friends, who are cruelly imprisoned in the Lonely Gaol. Will September out-wrestle the darling Marid? Can the paper lamp be trusted? What does fairy food taste like, really? And, perhaps most importantly, will the exposure to such extreme levels of Whimsy leave you unfit to return to your day job?
If you are still reading at this point, I’m assuming that Fairyland sounds quite delightful to you, and we are in the clear. But if you are reading on just to be contrary, let it be stated afresh:
The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is, quite possibly, the most hardcore collection of Whimsy ever assembled between two covers. Though perfectly suitable for ages 10 and up, it may not be appropriate for persons who insist upon a strict adherence to “reality” and will likely not be enjoyed by the overly practical, sensible or staid. So if both of your feet are firmly cemented to the ground — for the love of Spriggans, read something else!