The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
Series: Fairyland #2
Published by Feiwel & Friends on Oct 2 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Rating: 5/5 stars
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. . .
I never for a second doubted that I would love The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland…. There wasn’t a thing not to love. After the phenomenal first book in the series, I was thoroughly hooked. In fact, I even managed to read the second book within a year of reading the first, which is quite a feat for me!
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There takes place a year after September returns to her home in Omaha, Nebraska. She itches to return to Fairyland, and searches for the Green Wind and opportunities to go back anywhere she can. She finally returns to Fairyland on her thirteenth birthday whilst attempting to read French books in a corn field. September arrives in Fairyland hoping to find adventure and excitement, though she doesn’t anticipate how needed she is. She is quickly thrust into the current upheaval faced by the residents of Fairyland – they are losing their shadows, and with their shadows their magic. September discovers that her own shadow, which she bargained away during her first visit to Fairyland, is the force behind the mass shadow exodus and takes it upon herself to stop Halloween (as September’s shadow has dubbed herself).
Like the first book in the series, this novel was incredibly creative. I envy Valente her ginormous imagination, but I’m so grateful to be able to read about all of these fantastical characters and events even if I am incapable of creating anything quite so magical myself. I was particularly enamoured with the tea and coffee family (whose names I unfortunately cannot remember!) and Aubergine the Night Dodo, who was absolutely lovely, though I’ll admit that every single character in this series is utterly unforgettable.
I was also impressed with the integration of September’s personal growth. She’s truly growing up, and you can see her maturing right before your eyes. Where she was a heartless child in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland… she has begun to develop a heart and a conscious. She is no longer a child and it is evident in the choices she makes as well as the way that she is dealt with in the narration. There is a more melancholy streak in this book that in the first, and I think that is due to the fact that September is indeed becoming a teenager and is able to see the darkness through all of the beauty and brilliance of Fairyland. The inclusion of her father at the end of the book ripped my heart right out of my chest.
The sporatic illustrations throughout the book were beautiful and imaginative. I loved the way that the illustrator played with proportions and didn’t necessarily create images that directly translated exactly what was written. It really added to the reading experience.
My one source of confusion or annoyance in The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland… was that September’s shadow had her own name and her own identity, yet all of the other shadows went by their person’s name. For instance, Saturday’s shadow was called Saturday. I understood why this made sense for narrative purposes, as it illustrated the fact that they were two sides of the same person, but I thought it rather odd that Halloween was the one exception. Other than that, I was completely enraptured by this book and would recommend it to anyone regardless of age or gender or anything else. It’s the kind of book that makes me really appreciate what middle grade books have to offer and why they are so important.