Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making

Can I just note that I didn't call this post as weird a thing as I did for no reason. Nor did I make up this seemingly random sling of words. In fact, an American author called Catherynne M. Valente did, and it was in fact the title of a surreal and Dramatis Personaish yet gripping and exciting 2011 novel by her. I've been reading the fore-mentioned book for around two weeks now and I'm almost finished (I have a busy life – naturally it takes me a while to read books), and I'm really enjoying it, so I thought it might be nice to share it with you. So enjoy my review-in-chatty-style-so-it-doesn't-seem-like-it's-for-school!

Anyway, enough long and boring hyphenated parentheses. Now I'll actually start talking about the book. It's a traditional fairyland yarn but taken to a new level, notably with its more poetic and flexible language. While it isn't in the first person, the main character, a 12-year-old girl named September's thoughts are emphasised more than in old-fashioned fantasies, if her general manner is a bit naive for a 12-year-old (and I sure know!). September basically gets whisked away on a leopard to the world of fairies, which sounds stereotypical for a fantasy novel, but turns out this Fairyland has a lot of human-style laws. These include forbidding of flying for most creatures (which causes them to have their wings bound back in sorrow), and have been in place since a supercilious child known as the Marquess came to the throne. The plot mostly revolves around September having to retrieve a magic spoon stolen by the Marquess from two witches named Hello and Goodbye, and their husband Manythanks, and subsequently having to go to the supposedly forbidden Worsted Wood to receive a mysterious casket. Oops...maybe I've revealed too much...anyway I won't spoil it any more!

Possibly the best thing about this quirky little tale is the wonderful visual quality, which is why when reading I constantly imagined it as a film. First there's the places; the Fairyland capital of Pandemonium, entirely woven from wool, and the baked-from-bread land of the spriggans (exempt from every law), among others, full of colourful settings and features. And, of course, as in every Fairyland story, there are fantastic characters, like September's companions, A-through-L, the Wyvern (basically a dragon) son of a library, who only knows subjects from the first half of the alphabet, and Saturday, a blue boy part of a race born out of rain clouds. And my personal favourite, Calpurnia Farthing, passionate about riding velocipedes, or bicycles migrating to the Autumn Provinces. Yes, you read me correctly.

This whole book, the positivity, quirkiness, slight naivety and unprecedented darkness when September reaches the Worsted Wood lightens everyone up a bit, particularly me this weekend, when I read a huge chunk as I was ill with a headachey/sore throaty thing DURING HALF TERM (soooo irritating!), and had some time to rest. Fortunately, I feel better now, and can post this accompanied with cover artwork and a link to Amazon here! (NB this image isn't mine) 

I hope you guys enjoy this book if you happen to read it, if you're doubting it in any way I strongly urge to go on your positive instincts! Hope you enjoy it!
-DP :)

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