Return of a plucky girl to Fairyland

Girl Who Fell Beneath FairylandCatherynne M. Valente.  The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There.  Illus. Ana Juan.  New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2012.

Well, this turned out to be even better than the first book! September returns to Fairyland, which is in trouble again. Folks are losing their shadows and magic to Fairyland-Below, where September’s own shadow reigns as Halloween, the Hollow Queen. Of course September wants to fix things, but the shadows are very happy with their new freedom.

There are just as many wacky and lovely things about Fairyland-Below as its Topside counterpart. Things like this happen:

But tears did not come—instead, she wept black pearls that shivered into luna moths as they fell, their long wings brushing the heads of every Reveling shadow and leaving licorice blossoms in their hair. September’s laughter rippled and echoed, spooling out into a bolt of sunshine-colored silk that flapped its seams like wings and spun around twice before winking out in a little swirl of light. [1]

And clever meta conversations like this:

“Just as there are different types of stars—red and white and brown and blue and dwarf and giant and all that lot—there are different types of Quests, and if we determine what type you face, we shall have a much easier time managing the whole business. We’re doing very well. 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. …” [2]

And there are plenty of other mentions of/allusions to folklore, like the random spool of “Anansi’s No-Weight Silk Yarn” and a bottle of “Erishkegal’s Black Label Whiskey.” And there are reindeer that shed their skins just like selkies (September even thinks explicitly about selkies when she meets them). And a marvelous samovar-shaped tea/coffee house run by the Duke of Teatime, the Vicereine of Coffee, and their children—Darjeeling, Matcha, Kona, Peaberry, and the Littlest Earl.

And September and Saturday are a sweet couple, but it’s not a big deal; it doesn’t sidetrack the story from its main goal, or keep September from acting independently in service of that goal. And Ana Juan’s chapter heading illustrations are brilliant.

This one is definitely going on my Favorites page.


[1] Pg. 122

[2] Pg. 141

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