Doesn’t this book have an incredible title? It’s been a while since I’ve had a book review on the blog, and I’m delighted to bring that back with Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which is one of the best books I have read this year. I adore fairytales, and this is a wonderful magical adventure that I just couldn’t get enough of.
When the Green Wind arrives at twelve-year-old September’s window, upon a flying leopard, she leaves her humdrum life behind for the magic of Fairyland.September tumbles into an enchanting adventure full of strange creatures, secrets and danger. Accompanied by a Wyverary (a dragon-like creature born of a wyvern and a library) September begins a daring quest to save Fairyland from the Marquess’ tyrannical rule. She must find her courage, and make difficult choices to complete her quest.
Valente weaves a spellbinding fairytale, and this is now one of my favourite books. The narration is wonderfully witty and draws on many fairytale traditions. The writing is full of fantastical descriptions and pieces of wisdom such as ‘For the wishes of one’s old life wither and shrivel like old leaves if they are not replaced with new wishes when the world changes.’ The book is beautifully illustrated with chapter headings by Ana Juan that echo the magical atmosphere of the book.
September is a brave heroine who grows as she makes her journey. It is great to see a female ‘knight’ take control and try to save her new world. The magical beings she meets along the way – from witches to alchemists, enchanted objects to fairies – are highly imaginative. I was enthralled by the fascinating world and its creatures, the strong protagonist and the action-packed plot. I cannot wait to read the next two books in the series. Highly recommended for any teen or adult reader who enjoys an enchanting fairytale.
Originally reviewed for LoveReading. Check out a whole range of reviews of the book here by children, teens and adults.