October 2012

A dance with a mischievous shadow

By Catherynne M. Valente
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In Catherynne M. Valente’s first book for young readers, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, the 12-year-old protagonist, September, had a unique and wonderful adventure in the world of Fairy and was brought home to Nebraska, safe and sound. For those of us who read the earlier novel and fell in love—with the writing, with the characters, with September—our desperate need for another trip to Fairyland has been as great as September’s own. With this second novel, Valente delivers another truly wonderful story.

Having vanquished the evil Marquess the first time around, September longed to return and enjoy the many marvels of what is now, surely, a peaceful kingdom. Once she finds another way back, however, she discovers that her very own shadow, the one she was forced to relinquish on her first visit, has been stirring up a good bit of trouble. She sets off  once again off to make things right and restore magic to Fairyland.

Valente’s rich prose is practically poetry. Her narrative voice is so immediate and revealing that we feel we know more about September than she knows about herself. The vocabulary is full and deep and continuously rewards the careful reader. As one character observes, “A book is a door, you know. Always and forever.” The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There is one of the best doors to choose: a completely satisfying read and a joy to revel in.

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