You guys saw this coming. You all saw how I fangirled over The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland - For a Little While and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. You saw how much I LOVED those books. So it should come as no surprise that I read and squeed my little head off when I read The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Lead the Revels There. It is soooooo good, you guys! No really! Go out and pick up these books right now! RIGHT NOW! You will not regret it! There's so much magic and adventure and fantasy and great character interaction and sahsgxuadjugo
...wait a minute...
I am writing this review out of order, aren't I? Oops... well, can you blame me for my excitement? It's just a great series and I want EVERYONE to go out and read it!
But enough of my fangirlism. Let's actually talk about this book.
If you've read my review for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (and if you haven't, you can find the review here), then you know I picked up this book at the same time I did the first one. This was one of those series I was really excited to read because I heard nothing but good things from Misty over at The Book Rat. She got me really curious about this world so when I saw it at the library, I just had to check them out. I read them... AND NOW I AM A HUGE FAN! I cannot get enough of this world. I loved it so much that I already went and ordered the third book from the library and I am waiting for it to come in. (Come on! What's taking so long, guys!? I need to know what happens next! DX) When a book series can make me anxious for the next book, you know it's a good one.
I want to say that The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Lead the Revels There is the second book in the Fairyland series so if you haven't read the first book, you probably shouldn't read this review as it might contain spoilers for the first book. However, you have nothing to fear as I will not spoil what happens in this book! So if you've read the first book and are wondering about if this second book is worth your time (it is) then keep reading! I will not spoil this book for you lovely readers!
This book picks up right where the last one left off. September is back in her home in Omaha and she is bored out of her mind with the ordinariness of it all. Having to endure being picked on by the other kids because of how different she is from everyone else... is not really her ideal way to spend her time. So she is counting the days until she is able to return to Fairyland. Once she is able to, she learns of the horrors taking place in her home away from home. The inhabitants of Fairyland have been losing their shadows, and with it there magic, to those in Fairyland Below, the world under Fairyland. This world is ruled by Halloween, the Hollow Queen, otherwise known as September's shadow. September must set out on a journey to get everyone's shadow, and magic, back from her shadowed self, which proves to be a lot more difficult than she thought... since Halloween is a lot more greedy than September's true self. Things are a lot more dark in this underworld as September will soon find out as she reunites with her old friends Ell and Saturday... or are they really her friends? Hmmmm~?
Catherynne M. Valente returns with a tale that is just as endearing and magical as her first book. Her writing is still very strong and whimsical with a rich vocabulary that will make your brain work extra hard to figure out its meaning. But like I said in my first review, I don't find this to be a problem. One can always stand to learn more of the English language. Besides, I felt, that she didn't include as many obscured words as the first book. Slight bummer but it doesn't take away from enjoying the book as a whole. What I love about Valente's book is that her plots, even if they seem simple on the surface, contain so much more depth to them. She includes so many life lessons in her work but she doesn't shove it down the reader's throat. It never feels preachy. She has them there for the reader to learn from if, you know, they want to. No biggie.
Her world is so vast! It seems with each new book, you come to realize just how HUGE Fairyland is. This particular time we spend the majority of the book in the world below Fairyland, and it's incredible. I love being able to learn more about where certain beings live and how different it is from Fairyland Above. One thing that helps the reader visualize the world and its characters more clearly is Ana Juan's art. Last time, I described how Juan's gothic, otherworldly art style matched perfectly with this bizarre world Valente had created. This time is no different. Her art still fits perfectly into Valente's creation. It's weirdly rounded in areas and oblong in others... kind of hard to describe unless you saw it for yourself which I highly recommend you do because it's fantastic. Anyway, once you see her art and read the book, you will know exactly what I mean about Juan's art bringing everything in Fairyland to life. Not that it's hard to imagine Valente's world in your head. Her beautiful imagery and spectacular prose helps you envision the characters and their actions.
Speaking of, can I just fangirl a little more about September? I can? Awesome!
DO YOU KNOW HOW BLOODY AMAZING THIS GIRL IS!? DO YOU!? I DO AND I CANNOT GET ENOUGH OF HER!
In this book, September is a year older and you can tell just how much she has matured since the last book. She is not as quick to do something cruel as she was in the beginning of the first book. In fact, you started seeing her develop this habit by the end of the first book and it just enhances in this one. She has a mind of her own. She is strong and able and willing to care for herself. There's this one part in the book where she says she would rather NOT be a princess because that would mean depending on a man to save her and she would rather be her own hero. That's amazing! I love a girl who is independent and doesn't want to be a "damsel in distress." I always admire women who are truly strong. Really strong. Not because they want to prove a point but because they are just naturally that way. And I truly believe September to be that way because that's just who she is. But that's not to say she doesn't have a soft spot. You can tell that her heart has grown and she has learned to care more. She is definitely a lot more sympathetic in this book than she was in the first. You can tell whenever she talked to one of the characters (I won't say who it is because I feel like that it something you should read for yourself). Even when she talks to her shadow, you can see how softer she is in handling the firecracker. However, even though she has grown tremendously from the first book to this one, she is still herself. She is still strong, passionate, open-minded, and caring. September is one of my favorite female characters and I know she will forever remain as one.
The other characters make an appearance, too! ...sort of. There's Ell, the Wyverary, who I've talked about last time and how much I adore him. He is still a very polite and intelligent being... but he seems to be a lot shyer than before. There's also Saturday, the boy from the ocean, and he still cares a lot about September. The only difference... he is a lot more aggressive. Hmm? I wonder why THAT could be~ (I won't spoil it.) Then there's Halloween, the Hollow Queen, herself. She is a mirrored image of September, except she is a lot louder, cruder, and more selfish than September. After all, a shadowed version of yourself is supposed to represent a darker you, no? >:3 And Halloween is definitely a darker version of September alright. However, there's something a lot more charming about her than you would think. Huh... I am actually starting to see a pattern to Valente's "villains." They are not just "evil" per se. I mean, yeah, they are asswipes BUT they have more to them than that. I like that. Makes them feel more whole as characters.
My one complaint about this book is this.... NOT ENOUGH OF THE GREEN WIND! What am I supposed to do without my husband. huh? I needed more of his lovely face and charming ways and sassy attitude! But I didn't get any of that! *Sobs* My feels! (I'm just joking, of course. Yeah, I wanted to see more of him but it's okay~ I can wait~ The book is too awesome not to enjoy! ...even if my husband wasn't really in it. XP)
What this all comes down to is this: I love this series. I love it with all my heart and I will continue to love it for all time. I can see myself re-reading this again and again and again. It's just that amazing. The story is loaded with fantasy whims, the characters are lovable as all hell, and the writing is to die for! And let's not forget about the weird but lovely artwork! Just read this series already. Trust me. You're going to love it. Especially if you are into fantasy and fairytales. You are going to love this book. I am definitely looking forward to reading the third book in the series. I suspect we are going to get a certain "absent" character involved in this one~ >:3