I had vaguely heard of the first book in Catherynne Valente’s middle grade series, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, before interviewing for an internship at Feiwel & Friends, but it wasn’t on my to-read list. After the interview, as is custom in the publishing industry, I was sent on my way with a book that just so happened to be the aforementioned tale. I was told that it was very much like Alice in Wonderland, which did not endear it to me as I don’t have a fondness for Lewis Carroll. However, when I was told that I had received the internship, I thought it only proper to read the book before starting the position and... just wow. It’s an instant classic.
The Fairyland series is essentially the adventures of a girl named September in the delightfully eccentric world of Fairyland (the sole exception being The Boy Who Lost Fairyland which flips the series formula and follows the life of a changeling in the land of Chicago). Along with a blue skinned Marid named Saturday and a Wyverary (that’s half-Wyvern and half-library) named A-Through-L, September travels through Fairyland, under it, and to the moon and back. The story’s so charming but it’s Valente’s use of language that makes this a truly magical series.
“... but as has been said, September read often, and liked it best when words did not pretend to be simple, but put on their full armor and rode out with colors flying.”
“I wouldn't even consider it if I were you. But then if I were you, I would not be me, and if I were not me, I would not be able to advise you, and if I were unable to advise you, you'd do as you like, so you might as well do as you like and have done with it.”
“The trouble with lies is that they love company. Once you tell a single lie, that lie gets terribly excited and calls all its friends to visit. Soon you find yourself making room for them in every corner, turning down beds and lighting lamps to make them comfortable, feeding them and tidying them and mending them when they start to wear thin.”
“Folk dress in all manner of finery and wonderful hats to go and watch the races, but only if it's horses doing the barreling that day. This, at least, is understandable, for horses, in secret, love hats more than any other creature. It is a horse's tragedy that they can never properly wear one.”
“All Librarians are members of the Catalogue. That's what you call a coven when it's made up of Librarians instead of witches.”
The first book received much acclaim, but since the final book in the five book series came out last year (give me a break, I have a large to-read backlog), I wanted to highlight this phenomenal series.