The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente is the first book in the Fairyland series and is quite possibly, the book with the longest title I have ever read to date. I’m always game for a good fairytale and since the cover displays a wyvern and a little girl with a giant key, I didn’t need much convincing to start this series. Plus Cassie raved to me about how fantastic it is and if there’s anyone I trust for book recs it’s her! The main character is a little girl named September who is invited on an adventure by a Green Wind to Fairyland. Fairyland seems to be in trouble and needs her help to fix things. How could any child resist an offer like that, right?
The writing in The Girl WhoCircumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is so incredibly whimsical and clever. It almost reads as poetry and it’s full of wordplay which for some readers can be difficult to get into but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story is clearly inspired by Alice in Wonderland and there are many paralells that can be drawn between the two works. I love all of the imagery Valenete portrays in her descriptions of Fairyland and I found myself getting very hungry while I was reading about the landscapes of certain areas. I will admit that the beginning of the story after September accepts the adventure proposal took a little while to hook me but once I got into it I was addicted! And the last couple of chapters were so amazing. This story is definitely for anyone who enjoys the journey before the payoff.
On her journey to stop the evil Marquess and help right Fairyland, September meets my favorite character, a red wyvern who she travels around with named the Honerable Wyvern A-Through-L, or Ell for short. He’s named as such because he spent his childhood memorizing encyclopedias A-through-L which is very helpful at times unless they run into a problem beginning with M-through-Z. Throughout the course of the story, September and Ell encounter many interesting and mythical creatures. Some are nonsensical and others are rooted in fairytale lore but each has a unique and modern twist. The only creature I will specifically talk about (because part of the fun of the novel is meeting everyone along with September) is Death who is individual to each person and whose size depends on the age of the person. Death has nightmares and is unable to sleep and September befriends Death and tries to help it get peace.
Final Thoughts: The Girl WhoCircumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valenete is an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque fairytale about a child named September who emarks on a strange journey through Fairyland in an effort to stop the evil Marquess. The book is full of flowery language and clever wordplay and you will be intrigued by Fairyland but it’s the ending that will stick with you forever.