I cannot believe I forgot to post this from back in October/November, so here ya go!
While perusing the children’s section, I ran across The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherine M. Valente, the sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I immediately locked into its purple allure with the familiar cover design and long title. It was stunning that I had not been informed there was a sequel to Valente’s book! Luckily, it just came out.
September is swept back to Fairyland where things are amiss. Magic is rationed because all the shadows of fairyland’s creatures are being taken to Fairyland Below and the shadows hold the magic of a being. September’s quest this time around is to get the shadows back to Fairyland so that magic might once again return. The problem is that the Queen of Fairyland Below is Halloween, September’s shadow! Shadows are the dark side of a person. The yearnings and contained attitudes and personality that the human person does not show. After failing to convince the shadows to go back to being 2 dimensional slaves of their human counterparts, September must find the prince of Fairyland and wake him from an enchanted sleep so he can take power back from Halloween. Along the way, September discovers all sorts of inhabitants of Fairyland Below, and some somewhat familiar faces.
As in the first book, Valente writes beautifully. I often wonder at this being a children’s book. Although the subject material seems childish, the writing and content are sophisticated and philosophical. It is deep and thought out with themes of family, love, self-awareness, coming-of-age, and so much more. The characters are intricate and it often reminded me of Alice in Wonderland with riddles and strange ways of saying things or getting to a point. The vocabulary is advanced as are the ideas presented. Sure a ten year old could read this, but an adult could read it too and get a lot out of it. This is a great example of a book that you would read when you’re young and reread when you’re older, just to find hidden meanings and new ideas.
I preferred Fairyland Below to Circumnavigated actually. I think the plot of this one ran a bit smoother. Maybe I just enjoyed it more, but either way, this is a fantastic book. As September is getting older, she’s dealing growing up, finding an occupation, and a place for herself. This theme runs throughout the book and lends to part of the coming-of-age aspect of this read. However, it does not slap you in the face like some coming-of-age novels, with overly referenced teenage angst and troubles or morals. This is a novel that lets its reader puzzle on meaning and interpretation.
This is fantasy, as you can tell by the title, because it deals with a pretend world, so it was just up my alley. If you have not read the first book, you need to in order to understand the plot and characters fully in this book. I highly suggest giving this book a read.