Book Review: The Fairyland Books by Catherynne M. Valente

Fairyland Trilogy by Catherynne M. Valente
Fairyland Trilogy by Catherynne M. Valente

Title: The Fairyland Trilogy

(Including: The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland – For a Little While, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut The Moon In Two, and The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There)

Author: Catherynne M. Valente

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure, Children Novels

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Published: Between 2011 and 2013 (for now)

Page Amount: Varies between 31 to 258 pages per book)

Blurb from Goodreads:

Fairyland #0.5: In which a young girl named Mallow leaves the country for the city, meets a number of Winds, Cats, and handsome folk, sees something dreadful, and engages, much against her will, in Politicks of the most muddled kind.

Fairyland #1 : 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.

Fairyland #2: September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows—and their magic—to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.

Fans of Valente’s bestselling, first Fairyland book will revel in the lush setting, characters, and language of September’s journey, all brought to life by fine artist Ana Juan. Readers will also welcome back good friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. But in Fairyland Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem. . . .

Fairyland #3: September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home, and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers.

Why Read: I mostly chose these books for the reason of an author bond. Normally upon finding a new author that I absolutely adore, I feel the need to read as many books as I possibly can. In Catherynne Valente’s case, this stemmed from ‘Labyrinth’, her first novel that is available for free (I KNOW, difficult to believe) on her website. It was written in the Stream Of Consciousness style, and I fell in love with it.

Review: In the interest of saving time, I have written shorter reviews of each book, as they are quite short, and then a larger review of the whole series.

The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland – For a Little While (#0.5)

After having read the other 3 books in the trilogy, I found this Prequel a little harder to get into. Perhaps it was because I was more attached to the character of the other three books, September, than Mallow. The plot development was iffy at best, and it read similarly to the other three books, which I enjoyed. Characterwise- it was actually really great to get more insight into the main villain of the other books. I found the book not as great as the other books and for all you lucky readers, that’s convenient for you. Why? Because it’s not necessary to read for the rest of the series.

3/5 Stars

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making (#1)

Book One of this trilogy is a fun read. Seriously. Although it was a little bit more difficult to connect with the imaginary characters, the style of writing was inviting and made me feel welcome in this strange world of Librarian Dragons and Pirates Who Steal Shadows. It was simple to believe that you could be September, thrust into a world of new creatures and adventures. Even the whole idea that the book was ‘Young Adult’ didn’t deviate from how much I loved the writing style. The plot takes some interesting twists, as well, that I did not see coming. And I really did appreciate, as anyone would appreciate, the deviation from normal ‘YA’ novels.

4.2/5 Stars

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led The Revels There (#2)

The second book was even better than the first, and yes, that’s a trend that keeps going throughout this entire series. It’s not only that September has grown from the end of the first novel to this one, but it’s also that the plot shows how much being only a few years older can change one’s perspective. I particularly loved that the plot became more complicated as September became more able to deal with it. In a way, it was adapted so that there was not an easy fix. Sacrifice is another theme in this book that I really loved. There were many ideas and plot devices in this novel that perhaps a younger September could not have handled – but with her growth, comes new and exciting ideas in the books.

4.5/5 Stars

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland And Cut The Moon In Two (#3)

The third in this fun trilogy is just as great as the first and second. I’ll admit; I’m torn between choosing one that I like best. What’s really great about this book though, is there’s some fantastic good and memorable information that is sort of secreted away. Whether you want facts on love, libraries or time – Valente delivers, and she does it well.

A fast and quick start into the world of Fairyland and as with the second book, it is although everything has changed, although some things are similar enough to remind us of the other novels (sense of familiarity and all that). One element in particular that comes in the third novel is love, not the kind of love one would expect in a YA book. There’s one quote that really describes what love is, within the novel as well as real life. I’ll put that at the end of this review. From a plot perspective, yes. It was fantastic. It really took a step back to reminisce on the time between being a child and being an adult. It’s a time in our lives where things are confusing and we often misunderstand what adults mean, and what perhaps our own lives are meant for. The third book does a great job in approaching this, and as the book ended – I was loath to see the characters leave.

Listen to me. Love is a Yeti. It is bigger than you and frightening and terrible. It makes loud and vicious noises. It is hungry all the time. It has horns and teeth and the force of its fists is more than anyone can bear. It speeds up time and slows it down. And it has its own aims and missions that those who are lucky enough to see it cannot begin to guess. You might see a Yeti once in your life or never. You might live in a village of them. But in the end, not matter how fast you think you can go, the Yeti is always faster than you, and you can only choose how you say hello to it, and whether you shake its hand“

4.6/5 Stars

All in all, the 4 books really were great. It was reminiscent of the Narnia books for me. The stories were just as riveting, if not better, because the component of religion that hovers not-so-subtly in C.S. Lewis’s work. But I think if I had to choose just one idea or facet of these books to recommend to someone else, I would choose character development without a doubt. Throughout all of the books, there is nothing more pronounced than the slow growing up of a girl who can’t seem to let go of the world that drags her in piece by piece. This is even more pronounced by the element of Saturday, the boy who has more than one of himself wandering the world.

Looking at our futures and seeing what we will become can sometimes be the worst of all. Why would you want to see that? Saturday understands this more than most, and although the books don’t really address this until the final third part in the trilogy, the wait is worth it. If you’re looking for something that really takes apart a child’s growth, and the hands of childhood that seem to grasp the tightest – you won’t find any book better to read.

4.5/5 Stars

Review Coming Soon: The Orphan’s Tales In The Night Garden by Catherynne Valente

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