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Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland & Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente (FAIRYLAND blog tour)

It's almost time for you to be able to get your hands on The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland... (can we all just agree to call it that for the duration of this post, so I don't have to type the whole title every time?)
I am super excited to be kicking off the Fairyland blog tour - You may recall, I am a fan.  And I got to reveal the trailer to y'all (which you can see again - or for the first time, if you haven't why haven't you - in Cat's guest post/giveaway).

But before we jump into what I thought of The Girl Who Fell (gets shorter every time...), let's take a moment to refresh our memories with this awesome trailer for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Check it out:

Okay, let's get down to business:

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
Amazon | Goodreads
Fantasy, 272 pages
Expected publication: October 2nd 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows—and their magic—to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.

Fans of Valente’s bestselling, first Fairyland book will revel in the lush setting, characters, and language of September’s journey, all brought to life by fine artist Ana Juan. Readers will also welcome back good friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. But in Fairyland Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem. . . .

What can I say that I didn't already say in my review of The Girl Who Circumnavigated? When I finished the first book, it felt complete. That's not to say there wasn't room for more, but it felt like it easily could have been a somewhat open-ended stand-alone book, and I was happy about that. But that doesn't mean I wasn't tickled to death to hear there was a book two - and that it dealt with September's shadow! In fact, I wasn't even nervous going into this that it was going to be a lesser book than the first, as I often am with sequels and 2nd-in-a-series books. I went into this fairly confident that Valente would masterfully avoid the Sophomore Slump, and I think she did. The Girl Who Fell is just as strong as its predecessor, but with a with a more mature, more insightful September at the helm.

Now, I think some people are going to find this a little...hmm - harder? to connect to; I think they'll find it less whimsical and a bit darker, and September a little more serious, and they may interpret that as the story losing some of its magic and charm. But I don't think that's the case, and I personally found it the opposite. I think it's simply that things have changed. September is older now (as our narrator coyly tells us, she now has the beginnings of a heart), and her perception and experiences are different. She's more thoughtful - and more hesitant - which I think for some readers will mean the magic is starting to die. Which in the scope of all things fairy is generally true - the older you get, the more it slips away... But September is still September, even though everyone around her is a shadow of what they're supposed to be (literally), and I think she still comes through very strongly. I actually really really love that September is starting to grow up (as much as we may not want her too); this makes her so much more authentic, AND ALSO this means that a younger audience reading this can potentially grow alongside September and relate to her, and that gives me Happy Reader Shivers.

But even if September is a little older, a little wiser, and a little more introspective, the fact remains that she's still September and she's still going to do Septemberly things and approach the world (both "real" and Fairyland) as only September would. And frankly, Fairyland-Below = awesome. It expands the world of Fairyland really nicely; familiar characters popped up in unexpected ways, and new characters crept in - many of them fleetingly so, as in the way of the first book, but what's so wonderful is that even the minor characters who just pop up and disappear are never confusing. Instead, they make the world full - everything has a place, everything has a purpose, and everything comes into play.

The struggle with the shadows and with Halloween (the Hollow Queen, ie September's sort-of-stolen shadow) are just fantastic. I loved that nothing is ever easy/black and white. I love that you begin to feel for the shadows and for Halloween just as much as you do for their tangible counterparts. I LOVE the idea of everyone's shadows just hanging out, being a part of you but never really getting to experience, never getting credit, never getting to do their own thing. The bittersweet, melancholic streak I talked about (and loved!) in Circumnavigated is stronger in Fell (shortest yet), and perfectly suited to Fairyland Below, AND to where all of the characters are now; it's not just September who has grown and changed, but all of the characters - even some you may not expect.
There are FACETS.
I like FACETS.
Makes everything shiny.

Basically, I doubt anyone who liked Circumnavigated will dislike Fell;  those that found the beginning of the first slow moving will find the same here, but again, it's a good slow. It's a savory slow.  And it will once again charm the pants off kids and adults alike. (Um, scratch that; everybody keep your pants on. You can be charmed with pants.)

Valente is still the Queen of Nonsense, and I still mean that in the best of all possible ways. As far as I'm concerned, she always will be.
Long may she reign.

So if you've read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and liked it, you should pick this up. If you haven't, you should do that.
But if you can't pick it up just yet, maybe read this Fairyland short story to tide you over?
But before you go, head over to my guest post from Catherynne (and while you're there, enter to win!!)
And don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour here!


  1. I can't wait to read this! Great review, Misty.

  2. I seriously can't wait for this come out. CAN'T. WAIT. I read Circumnavigated back in December of 2011 and I almost wept when I found out I would have to wait a year for more September (though, like you, I think I may have been content with it being a standalone -- but it was the KNOWING there was a sequel and knowing I would have to WAIT that made me want to weep.)

    I like how you focused on September growing up, because that really is a bad thing in Children's Lit., isn't it? It's not surprising that Valente's tackling it, especially after tackling many old and loved children's lit. tropes in Circumnavigated.

  3. Yay, I love that trailer for the first book and am so happy to watch it again! Can't wait to read this one, and glad to hear it lives up to the first book-- which I thought for a long time was a stand-alone.

  4. I'm looking forward to reading The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland. There is a whole different tone to the book trailer for this one, and according to your review, the story has a darker feel to it. Can't wait to see how September and Fairyland have changed.

  5. I'm so looking forward to this. I'm excited to see how September is growing with her beginnings of a heart.

  6. I've seen a lot about Circumnavigated, but I'm a bit hesitant to give it a try. Nonsense doesn't always work for me. I've tried Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Twice and both times was let down by its scattered randomness.

  7. Sounds like a fantastic read. I still need to dive into the first book though. Great review Misty.

  8. Can't wait for this book! I loved the first one.


  9. I loved the first book. This review is wonderful in letting me know how the second compares and giving me a hint of what is coming. I'm excited to read The Girl Who Fell -- Thank you!

  10. Oh, I really like the idea of this book being darker! I absolutely adored the first one and can't wait to read this one. I like that there's a change in tone and it isn't really black and white. Fantastic review!

  11. Thanks for the great review! I loved the first book and I'm glad to hear this one is great too. Gotta love the nonsense : ) Can't wait to read it!

  12. Great review and I love the premise of these books, they seem very unique and that is refreshing


  13. Haven't read the first book yet but was interested to see what your thoughts were on its continuation - so happy you liked it! And the slight change in tone kinda makes me more excited to pick the series up, like you said gives it a little more authenticity. :) x

  14. I love that you love these books. I read the first one and the prequel, but I haven't had the chance to read the second one yet. I'm looking forward to it though!

  15. I haven't read the sequel yet, it sounds like I might enjoy it even more than the first. I will have to check it out.

  16. Can't wait to read these books! Your reviews are very good. You base your thoughts on solid reasons, not simply "read this book because it's good." I like reasons.

  17. I like that you are good about voicing what you did like, and also what you didn't like. It makes it much more interesting that the reviews by people who rave about books or just hate everything. Great review!

  18. Shadows? A darker story? A Hollow Queen? FACETS?! Stop. Please stop. You're killing me with want.

  19. This is why I can't read reviews of book I haven't read. They make me want to drop the book(s) that I'm reading and pick up the book being reviewed.

  20. Love the trailer and because of your review I want to buy it ...

  21. Awesome trailer! The series is on my TBR list.

  22. super duper excited if I can manage to get my hands on this series of books!

  23. I JUST finished reading Fairyland #1 and I had no idea books 2 and 3 were already out until I saw your post!

  24. Ahh I was a bit afraid to read this review. I haven't read the series yet but I am really really excited to get into it! I love that September will evolve as a person as the story progresses. I rarely read series but the ones that I can remember (Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy-if I remember correctly you were not a fan...don't scold me! lol. And Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat Series) I appreciated the Protagonist becoming wiser...more mature as the series continued. Also on a random note, I looove the cover art for Valente's series, its ridiculously gorgeous!

    1. No, I was not a fan of the Gemma Doyle series! But I did like The Diviners by Bray, and have high hopes for a few others, so... I won't hold GD against you. ;)
      Also, if you like the art for this, make sure you watch the trailers. Great art and a cool song to match. =D

  25. I absolutely love everything about this series. The furthest I've ever driven for a book signing was 250 miles....I may have to make an exception if Cat Valente doesn't come south.

  26. I genuinely cannot wait to read these. I devour all things fairytale...


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