2016 · July · Reviews

Book Review: “The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making”, by Catherynne M. Valente

Published in 2013 by Corsair | Originally published in 2011 | 3 stars


This is the story about September, who has a dad who is away fighting in a war and a mum who works at a factory making aeroplanes. One day, she is whisked away to Fairyland by a harsh green wind and a flying leopard, and is drawn into an adventure involving a magical Spoon and a special sword.


I normally love this type of books, because of the whimsicality and wyverns and magical adventures. And to some extent I do. It’s a lovely tale with a lovely title, and I really wish that I had liked it more. I thought I would, too, considering that Neil Gaiman apparently said it is “glorious”, and I like Neil Gaiman’s writing a lot.

However, I felt as if it contained several too-obvious references to other, very famous, works. For example, there are people who come through wardrobes and become rulers. Time flows more quickly in Fairyland than it does in the real world (you can be gone from Fairyland for a year, but when you return, all your friends have grown old). And when September enters the capital of Fairyland, she does so on a Red Road of Cloth. Had these references been a bit more subtle I would have been fine with it, but they stood out so clearly that I was a teensy bit annoyed by it.

It wasn’t a bad story. Had I read it when I was twelve, I would have adored it. But now those references were too clear for me give it a higher rating.


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