Middle grade: BEST DISCOVERY EVER. Look, you guys are fricken missing out if you don’t read middle grade books. For serious. I just read The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led The Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente this weekend and was completely taken with the story. Do you guys remember being kids and believing that anything was possible? I’ll admit I am a little jaded with old age. However, Valente’s latest brings back some of the magic of youth in the best possible way.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led The Revels There picks up a year after The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making left off. September is a year older, a teenager, with the beginnings of a heart. She has not been to fairyland in over a year. Yet, she finds herself longing for fairyland with all of her heart. She finds that she has changed and ordinary life just is not enough anymore. September finally gets her chance, but finds fairyland to be very different since she was there last. The inhabitants are losing their shadows and live in fear of the alleyman. It is up to September to travel into Fairyland-Below and save Fairyland. There, she will see old friends again, but can she trust them?
Oh, friends, I love when characters grow from one book to another. September is absolutely not a stagnant character. You see the first book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland posits that children do not have hearts, so it’s possible for them to be self-centered. In The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland, September has a heart. She’s a little more soft and vulnerable, but this is not exactly a weakness. We just see how she cares for characters beyond herself. She is still brave and resourceful, it’s just she is more mature in this book. I love that. We really get to see how creative September’s mind is, how she comes up with various solutions in her quest to save Fairyland. She’s a bit more assertive too.
For me, personally, I felt as though there was a melancholy, darker mood to The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland than there was in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland. I felt a little bit more deeply this time around. Certain characters are missing from this book, at least missing in that they aren’t exactly themselves. The vast majority of the book takes place in Fairyland-Below which is a dark place. There’s no light down there, and well, it’s a little more dangerous than Fairyland-Above. The stakes are higher this time. AND okay, I need to put this out there, but I totally did a little silent cry at the end of this being super emotional and all, because like I said, it’s melancholy and you’ll find yourself making certain attachments. I mean, I liked how it played out, I just was a bit sad. And friends, that is not a bad thing at all.
The entire time reading The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led The Revels There, I found myself in awe of Catherynne M. Valente’s imagination. She paints these fabulous pictures with imagery and I found myself completely immersed in Valente’s Fairyland-Below. I loved the idea of coffee and tea royalists. I loved the idea of the Sea Of Forgetting. I loved it all, friends, and how different it was. I guess the best comparison I can make for the world is that it is kind of similar to that of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
I love it when a book brings magic and whimsy and maybe just a touch of darkness to my day. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led The Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente introduces new characters, brings back old ones and manages to be a rather unique story attesting to the quality of middle grade fantasy literature coming out. Yet, there’s also, perhaps, a tip of the hat to the classics, and I love that. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and it’s predecessor to anyone with an imagination and a love for words.
Disclosure: Received For Review
Other reviews of The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led The Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente:
WORD For Teens – “But it missed some sparkle.”
Books By Catherynne M. Valente: