Today is the launch day for Catherynne M. Valente’s new book, “The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There”. You may remember how truly, madly, deeply I loved (and still love!) the first Fairyland book, “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making”, and if you have followed me anywhere for any length of time you will know how truly, madly, deeply I love Catherynne M. Valente herself and every word she pens. But in case you are new here, I love, love, love her and her Orphan’s Tales books are eternally imprinted on my heart. They are everything that matters to me in the world.
But this post is not about them. This post is about Fairyland, and why it is wonderful, and why you should buy it.
Catherynne M. Valente writes faerie stories in the very best way, the way that makes Fairyland as much shadow and menace as sunshine and frolics, and she fills them with faerie creatures who always seem a little sinister, even as they smile at you. September is the perfect girl to guide us through, being both practical and naive, fierce and very, very sweet. And, a surprising and welcome plus, the companions she meets along the way are every bit as lovable and compelling as she is. This was the case in Circumnavigated, anyway, and while I have not yet read Fell Beneath in its entirety, I cannot imagine it will be any different.
Despite its name, this is not a series only for children. I do intend to give copies to my niece when she is old enough, and I encourage everyone to share it with the children in their lives, but there is just as much to be gained from it by adults. About courage, adventure, love, sacrifice and triumph, and, maybe most important of all, about self-discovery. September is very young and has a great deal of self yet to discover, but then, don’t we all?
You can tell, when reading any of Catherynne M. Valente’s words but perhaps especially in Fairyland, that she had a great time writing it and wants you to have an equally great time reading. She knows how to wield her words like a weapon to destroy your heart, but, in the next breath, how to make you laugh with delight at the clever things words can do. I have read many comparisons to “Alice’s Adventures in wonderland”, and I can see it, but I feel like Fairyland is so much more multi-faceted and complex. I adore Alice, don’t get me wrong, but for me there is simply no contest. Lyrical, beautifully-written books are my ultimate weakness.
As I already mentioned, I have not yet read “The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland” in its entirety, but “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland” was the first book in a long, long time that took me right back to the wide-eyed wonder of childhood, when I greedily devoured every single book I could get my hands on and was transported to a new world every time. I read it all in one day, and when I was finished, I felt that same sense of displacement and longing that comes from having been so immersed in another world that you would swear you had actually been there, feasting in the Autumn Provinces, riding wild bicycles, sailing around the world on a lonely sea. I would not trade such experiences for anything, and so that is why there was absolutely no question that I would buy the second book, even though I am notoriously reluctant to spend money and have been trying to save for a new iPhone for months and months.
Fairyland knew my true name and called it, and now I am irrevocably bound to it and to September and to all the adventures yet to come. I wish the same thing for you, but if you are not yet convinced, you can read the first five chapters for free at Tor.com.
And then, you can buy the book. At Amazon or Barnes and Noble or iBooks or Powell’s. Amazon also has a Kindle version and an audiobook, read by S.J. Tucker. I want that version for myself, eventually; S.J. Tucker’s voice was made for reading things aloud. Buying both books together, if you do it at amazon, costs $22.53, which I know because that is just what I did this morning. I have already read the first book, of course, but there is nothing quite like having your very own special copy. All the buying information, plus more, can be found in this post at Catherynne M. Valente’s LiveJournal.
Go forth and revel.