The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There is written by Catherynne M. Valente. It was published in 2012 by Feiwel and Friends. It is the second book in the Fairyland series, the first of which I reviewed here. Valente’s website can be found here.
“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 world has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween has no intentions of giving Fairyland’s shadows back.”
What I Liked:
What I liked so much about the last book was the incredibly surprising plot twist at the end that made my mouth drop open. This book had two, and while neither of them made my mouth drop open, the second, at least, I wasn’t expecting (I guessed the first).
Valente continues to dazzle with new Fairyland denizens and locations. I liked the whole concept of shadows that was used in the book. She gives a nice twist on the Traveling With Companions by having the companions’ shadows travel with September, so they were the same companions, yet not.
My favorite part of the book was the Questing Physicks chapter where September meets a character who just starts spouting off plot tropes with Special Names. It was rather funny, especially if you’re familiar with plot tropes.
I love the magical clothes. Not enough books use magical clothes (as in dresses or coats). I demand more magical clothes in books!
What I Didn’t Like:
No one’s evil, they’re just misunderstood!Let’s all hold hands and dance and sing! Yay! NOT.
After the fabulous villain in the previous book, the villain in this one was more than disappointing. September’s companions made better villains, and that’s saying a lot. Also, I felt the Marquess’ character was really undermined in this book from the first one.
September’s voice just feels so off to me. I’m not even sure what it is. She just doesn’t seem like a realistic character (but maybe she doesn’t need to be—this is Fairyland, after all).
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s, Fairy Tale
The Sibyl’s face was not a person’s face. It was a perfectly round disc, like a mask, but without a head behind it. Two thin rectangles served for eyes, and a larger one opened up where her mouth should be. The disc of her face was half gold and half silver, and all around it a lion’s mane of leaves and branches and boughs, each one half gold and half silver, sprouted and glittered around her strange, flat head. Her body had odd carved half-silver and half-golden joints, like a marionette, and she wore a sweeping sort of short gold-and-silver dress that looked like what little girls wore in paintings of ancient times. But September saw no strings and no one else in the red elevator, and the disc of the Sibyls’ face made her shiver in the sun and clench up her toes in her shoes.
“Are you a Terrible Engine?” September whispered. “Like Betsy Basilstalk’s gargoyle or Death’s mushroom lady? Is there someone else back there hiding behind you, someone less frightening and more friendly?”
The Sibyl tipped her head down to look at her, and nothing gleamed in the black bars of her eyes. Her voice emerged from the slash of her mouth, echoing, as if from somewhere very far away.
“No, child. I am only myself. Some things are just what they appear to be. I am the Sibyl, and you are September. Now come in out of the light and have a cup of tea.”
“Already we know that Prince Myrrh is an Endgame Object Type W—that’s Wonderful, since we have yet to see if he will be any Use in governing. He sleeps suspended in a Theseus-type narrative matrix, however he does seem to have some gravitational pull on events, which is unusual for a T-Type. After all, we still remember him even after all these years. It’s far easier to forget something than to remember it. Remembering takes all kinds of magic. No one knows who he is or what he looks like or where to find him, and yet we all know of him. We all know he sleeps in an unopenable box on an unbreakable bower. That’s a frightfully strong E.K.T. Field for one little creature!”
“What’s an E.K.T. Field?”
Avogadra grinned. “Whilst on an expedition to prove the Rule of Three, my honored colleague Black Fermat hypothesized that certain Quest Objects cast a field around them, like a magnet or a planet—an Everyone Knows That Field. This is how they draw in unsuspecting Heroes. When an E.K.T. Field is in effect, everyone within its power will know a good deal about the Object, even if they can’t say where they heard about it or why it’s so deathly important to remember all that dusty old nonsense. They’ll chat about it with any passing stranger like it’s sizzling local gossip.”
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland… introduces new, wonderful people and places in the world of Fairyland. Valente continues to (mostly) surprise with the plot twists and September’s adventures are really unique and great, even if the character herself just sounds…off. Unfortunately, Valente has a tendency in this book to make every single villain into some sort of misunderstood person who really just needs to be understood and accepted, which includes undermining previous character development and portrayal.
You can buy this book here: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
Coming Up Next: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper