…in a Ship of Her Own Making.
I am reviewing this book as a part of the Follow the Blurb Reading Challenge.
“When souls queue up to be born, they all leap up at just the last moment, touching the lintel of the world for luck. Some jump high and can seize a great measure of luck, some jump only a bit and snatch a few loose strands. Everyone manages to catch some. If one did not have at least a little luck, one would never survive childhood.”
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a novel by Catherynne M. Valente. The book was first discussed in Valente’s previous book Palimpsest (which I have yet to read!) and was officially published in May 2011. The novel, as the title very clearly says, is the story of a little girl’s adventures in Fairyland
Summary: September lives an ordinary life in Omaha. That is, until the Green Wind takes pity on her and she is whisked off by him to Fairyland. Her adventure begins atop a flying leopard, and as September enters Fairyland, she realizes how little the normal world knows about fairies and other magical beings. She meets three witches and learns about the evil Marquess who rules Fairyland. To help one of the witches, September grandly decides to confront the very irritable Marquess. Along her journey, September befriends the dragon-like Wyvern who believes his father was a library, along with Saturday, a unique boy who can grant wishes; she meets a soap golem and a herd of migrating bicycles; and comes across more whimsical and fantastical things than you can imagine!
My thoughts: This might be the closest I’d get to reading Alice in Wonderland! I’d like to think of this book as a short, sweet fairy tale for adults. It is a beautifully written tale too; the usual message of courage and strength for the younger readers mixed with magic, excitement and a subtle but striking sense of humour. Along with the wonderful illustrations at the start of every chapter, the book is a pretty amazing read!
The novel reminds me vaguely of a lot of fantasy books, and yet Valente’s Fairyland is quite unlike most magical worlds. The characters are unique and lovable. The Wyvern-library cross breed, called A-Through-L, is definitely one of my favourite characters ever. September initially seems a bit heartless (like all children) but you grow into liking her. Even the comparatively minor characters, right from the cheeky Green Wind to the sly Panther are absolutely adorable.
The descriptions are so vivid, that you feel like you are visiting the world yourself. Full of its twists and quirks, this novel is one of the most wonderfully weird books I have read in a long time.