A new year! Welcome 2012! This post is not about the first novel I’ve finished this year, but the books I’ve happened to finish were repeats, so I won’t write a new blog about them. This is the first new book I’ve finished. The full title of the novel is The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, written by Catherynne M. Valente. I am a raving lunatic over this book. I loved it so much I cannot begin to express that fully, though I will try my best.
It is a novel written for children, but it has some very adult themes and a stunningly mature vocabulary. Though I read a lot of books and consider my vocabulary to be exceptional, I had to look up several words just to make sure they were real. And they were! From start to finish the novel is stunning and fun, being at once whimsical and dark. It is reminiscent of books like Alice in Wonderland, full of mystery, wonder, and a little twinge of true malice.
The book follows little September, a girl who has just turned twelve. Her father is an American soldier in World War II, and her mother builds airplane engines. One night as she is doing the dishes, a Green Wind sweeps by on the back of a giant leopard and whisks her away to Fairyland. From the first September is challenged by her surroundings, being poked and prodded by the customs gnome and forced to solve a puzzle in order to enter Fairyland. In this new realm she makes friends with a benevolent wyvern, who claims that his father is a library, and a blue boy named Saturday. Together, these three embark on an quest, first for a witch and then for the malevolent ruler of Fairyland, a cruel girl of twelve called The Marquess. September is constantly under duress, and must face things most twelve-year-olds would cry before facing. The end serves up a nice little twist, and ends happily, as all good fairy tales should.
There is no end to the things I loved about this novel: the references to classic children’s tales, the clever vocabulary choices (often, a lesson even for me!), the well-conceived characters (I even loved the villains), the swiftly flowing plot, and the sedate and dolorous tone of the entire novel. Her descriptions of Fairyland are beautiful, both the nice pretty places and the not-so-nice, desolate places. Her creativity knows no bounds. Her knowledge of mythological creatures tested my own.
I would love to see this book become a much-talked about children’s book sensation. It is certainly deserving of it. The style, I believe, challenges some people, as its reviews will attest. It is certainly a special test, and the novel is one that people either love or hate. This girl loved it, and thinks everyone should treat themselves to this delightful treat of a book.