Catherynne M. Valente – The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

I am having a love affair with Cat Valente’s writing and I’m not ashamed to admit it. When the first Fairyland Novel (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making [German review]) stole my heart by storm and left me breathlessly hoping for a sequel, I knew Miss Valente was going to be and stay a favorite.

by Catherynne M. Valente
illustrated by Ana Juan

Published: Feiwel & Friends, October 2nd 2012
ISBN: 1466828005
Pages: 272
Copy: ebook
Series: Fairyland #2

My rating: 9,5/10

First sentence: Once upon a time, a girl named September had a secret.

September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows — and their magic — to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.


September, September, oh how I’ve missed you. The 12-year-old and quite heartless girl from book one has grown up a full year and yearns to go back to Fairyland. After all, she left her precious friends, Ell, the Wyverary and Saturday, the Marid, there. As the real world grows more tiresome and oppressive, September grows up a little bit without even noticing. But she doesn’t let go of Fairyland.

Whenever she thought those dark thoughts, that she might just be a silly girl who had read too many books, that she might be mad, September glanced behind her and shuddered. For she had proof it had all really happened. She had lost her shadow there, on a distant river, near a distant city. She had lost something big and true, and could not get it back.

More melancholy than the first book, but bringing the same, whimsical and poetic tone to its prose, Catherynne M. Valente shows yet again what incredible talent she has. Her plotting, her characters, the twists and turns along the way, all fit beautifully together, like puzzle pieces made entirely of cake icing. As September explores Fairyland-Below, the themes grow darker with her surroundings. But I enjoyed every moment in this dark underground world as much as I did the upper Fairyland.

This book is full to the brim with wondrous ideas and it is a true Revel to discover all of them. I have had the pleasure of meeting the Duke of Teatime and his wife, the Vicereine of Coffee, a real Sybil, an eel train, I learned about the mathematics of quests and unopenable boxes. Fairyland is a place where you can farm poetry and keep memories in your pocket. While the tone of the first book reminded me heavily of one of my all time favorite books, Peter Pan, this one read closer to Valente’s voice. Complex language and not-entirely-happy endings are her currency and I hope she will never change.

I believe, this book can be enjoyed on many levels. An adventure story, first and foremost, but full of hints and references that only grown-ups will understand and that made me smirk with a particular kind of glee only the best books can make me feel.

“A book is a door, you know. Always and forever. A book is a door into another place and another heart and another world.”

In short, if you enjoyed the first Fairyland novel, you will love this one as well. I hope there are many more to come and that we will have a reunion with a certain Night-Dodo, called Aubergine, that I’ve grown strangely attached to. But that’s how stories work. They make you see through another person’s eyes and live another person’s dreams. EKT.

THE GOOD: Another fairyland adventure told with exquisite language, peopled with original, lovable characters, and did I mention shadow twins?
THE BAD: The tone is whimsical and light but I felt the language was more complex than in book 1.  I would certainly like to challenge my future children with that, but maybe you won’t?
BONUS: Another set of beautiful illustrations by Ana Juan. And I urge you to watch the book trailers, the music by S.J. Tucker is just beautiful!
THE VERDICT: Another remarkable book by one of the best fantasy authors around. This fairytale has everything you could possibly want from a book and I wish another ten parts of the series were written and published already.

RATING: 9,5/10  Very close to perfection


The Fairyland series:

  1. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
  2. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

Other reviews:

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