There are times where I hear someone loving a book so much that I make a mental note to keep my eyes open for it. Well, seeing as how I love books, I love spending my time on YouTube looking up book related videos, where people review books or show book hauls or anything really that has to do with books. "BookTube" if you will. It is there where I learn a lot about the various books that are to be released in the upcoming months/years or books that might have fallen off the majority of people's radar because some other book is getting the shit hyped out of it. One such book that I don't hear a lot of people talking about is The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. (I don't think I will ever get used to the long titles of these books. But I do like them quite a bit! Adds to the whimsical feeling this book produces. I'll explain more in a bit.)
I first learned of this book from Misty over at The Book Rat. She made a few YouTube videos with her just fangirling over the Fairyland series where she talked about the world and the magical elements (in fact, I shall link you to her review because I think what she has to say is amazing and I feel more people should go check her out). Now, I adore fantasy books so when she mentioned the magic and fantastical creatures, I was instantly intrigued. However, it was her enthusiasm for how bizarre it was that sold me on it. I wanted to know more about this world and what made it seem so weird so I made a note to keep my eyes open for it if I ever saw it at the library.
Long story short, I was at my library browsing the shelves as usual, when I saw the first two books in the series! Do you know how fast I snatched those babies up? It was faster than I can scarf down a donut, I'll tell you that much! I just couldn't believe they were there. I was so excited! I think I pushed everything aside that day so I can start reading the first one right away (after I read the prequel for it, where you can read my review on it right here). I am so glad that heard about this book because it was one of the best ones I have ever stumbled upon! SPOILER ALERT: I loved it so much I am going to purchase the entire series as soon as I can. <3
With that being said, let's get on with the actual review.
A girl named September, who lives in Omaha and is very much tired with her routine life there, gets whisked away on a giant leopard by The Green Wind. This "gentlemen in a green jacket" takes her to Fairyland where September must save its inhabitants from certain doom (I have a flair for the dramatics~)! Once there, she makes friends with A-Through-L, a Wyvern with a love for books, and Saturday, a shy quiet boy from the sea. Together, they must find a talisman before the Marquess, the current ruler of Fairyland, does and creates havoc for everyone in that magical realm. However, things don't go as smoothly as September would have hoped. Chaos ensues as all three make their way through the many different obstacles in this charming yet bizarre tale of a girl's journey into growing a heart (it makes sense if you've read the book).
This books took me no time at all to read. Catherynne M. Valente did an amazing job with creating this masterpiece. Her writing fits the bizarre nature of this world completely. She has an amazing grasp of the English language that I haven't seen since I've read the book Seraphina (which you can read my review for here). Her vocabulary is immaculate. Advance even. Sometimes, I even had to look up what a certain word meant because of how advance it was. Not that I minded, of course. I always find it rather educational when a book can do that. It helps me better understand what I am reading and learn more of the English language! (I struggle with English sometimes. XP) Valente has the ability to pull you into her world with her writing and story. She chose to write in a way where she is actually talking directly to the reader. Do you know how awesome that is? You never read books like that anymore. Most books are written in first person nowadays. Valente chose not to follow the masses, which is something I can appreciate (I never liked people who were followers). Writing in a way that lets her talk directly to the reader helps set the mood of the book. It's whimsical. It's beautiful. It's weird as all hell. Seriously, if you know absolutely nothing about the book, you will be a bit lost. But that's okay! The more you read, the more accustomed you will feel.
I love when she introduced these strange concepts that you normally would think one mad if ever someone told you about it. In fact, it's through these strange concepts that Valente includes life lessons for children to learn. Many children's literature novels contain a lesson or moral of some sort that a child can take away from. However, most are pretty straight forward. Saying some thing like, "If you do good things, good things will happen to you" or something along those lines. In Valente's book, it's a bit different. It's not just spelled out for the child. It's disguised with beautiful language and bizarre concepts that the lesson might even be slightly overlooked. And I like that about this book. I like that it's not right in your face. I like that Valente makes you think about what she is trying to say. I think it's a fantastic idea to supply children with the right books and the right messages and let them figure out what those messages are. It will help them grow in the long run and I am all about teaching children the ways of the world.
Another thing I love about this book is the artwork. Ana Juan did a wonderful job in creating these, well, weird images that goes along with the tone of the book quite amazingly. There's witches and goblins and wyverns and imps and the list goes on and on. And Juan's art brings those magical beings to life! It's such a weird mixture of child-like art with gothic undertones. Some of it can be quite unsettling to gaze upon. However, I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, Valente's story can become dark at times. Very dark. Fights and blood and even death. There's mention of alcoholism and even child abuse at some point. But don't let that deter you from reading this book! Valent writes it in a way that helps the reader understand that this is how the world is sometimes. It's not always going to be happy and because it's not, you must remain strong and fight against it! It makes you feel empowered despite the horribleness of it all. Which brings me back to what I was saying about the art. It is beautiful and it matches this dark yet hopeful tale Valente wove for everyone, including adults, to enjoy.
So at this point, you know that I freaking LOVE this book because of it's world, plot, writing, and art. But what about the characters? Well, I'm glad you asked.
September is one of the best female heroines I have ever seen in any book. Period. She is strong, smart, witty, charming, and can kick ass like no other little girl I have ever seen before. And that's saying something since I have a love for a lot of strong female leads. She doesn't take any nonsense from people. She knows how to hold her own in a world where right is down and left is square. She never loses heart and when she feels defeated, she reacts like a normal little girl: wanting to go home and be with her mother. I mean, being trapped in a place for so long where I know not what is the norm, I would cry for my mother, too. But here's what makes me love September. Even when she felt hopeless, she quickly gets over it! She finds her strength again! She is so mature for her age yet still posses a child-like heart that I just can't help but fawn over her. I love how she questions everything yet is still open-minded enough to accept the outlandish explanations that are given to her. <3 Ugh! Can I just hug her? Because I really want to! <3333
That's not to say September was the only awesome character in this book. There's A-Through-L (or Ell for short). He's a Wyvern (or Wyverary... long story) and one of September's friends. He is such an adorable little bugger! He's intelligent yet childish but not to the point where it can be annoying. He just has a very child-like mind and he's cute~ There's also Saturday, a little boy from the ocean. Literally. Now... he... is... the most sweetest character... I have ever met. Ever! No, guys! You don't understand! He's so adorable! He's shy and soft-spoken and cute and I just get all these feels when I see him and September interacting that I just asjhajudchskcdkgvdkskgbyh
YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS BOY!
Anyway, I truly love Saturday as a person. He's caring and will gladly put himself at harms way for his friends. (The same thing could be said for all of them, actually! All of the characters will gladly risk their lives for each other and I love that about them.) The Marquess is our "villain" in our story. She is somewhat difficult to talk about. You want to hate her but there is something about her that you can't help but love. She is cruel, though! She will not hesitate to cut off your head if you piss her off enough... but... I do have a soft spot for her. She is the perfect example of a character that you want to see more of just because you can't help but feel for her. I'll leave it at that for now because I think she is someone you need to experience for yourself. :)
There's one more character I want to talk about before wrapping up my review. The Green Wind.......... asghcfsdhfvsfhskfvhafchnskufvchskhydchacfsifvhsjyhisdgkhkdvyfshifvhnskfvy
He is my husband! That's right I claimed him! He is now mine! >:3 He is the one who came to September and took her into Fairyland. Basically, the one who helped start her adventure. This guy! This "Green Wind" stole my heart! Ugh! He is so beautiful! No really! He's very charming and caring. He has this attitude about him that makes him almost sassy and I love me my sassy characters~ But he is also very sweet to September. He doesn't treat her like a child. He treats her like a human and that is the best part of his character. He shows her love and affection like a father would as well as the discipline it takes for a child to learn how to continue on in life with their head held high. I am IN LOVE with The Green Wind and I want to see more of him in the upcoming books. (Also, if you've read the prequel then you will get a kick out of who the Green Wind is!)
I cannot begin to tell you how much this book really stole my heart. Even though you can kind of tell with how I fangirled real hard at the end there. XP It contained everything I love to see in a story. Incredible writing, a fantastical world, well-developed characters, and an engaging plot that makes you crave for more. This book is something that will stay with me for all time to come and I highly recommend you go out and read this right now. Especially if you love fantasy and strong female characters. I guarantee you are going to love it! And if you need more enticing to read this book, check out the trailer below! <3
Recommendation: BUY IT! BUT IT NOW!!!
Seriously, guys! It is a great book! You need to have this in your personal library! Here. I'll make it easy for you. Click this link to purchase it right away!