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…
Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland books are rare treasures. With the first, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, I was gobbled up by the magic and imagination and feeling evoked by the story. With this second book, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, I was more alive to its nuances, to the changes and differences between it the first adventure, and fascinated by new characters and new world.
September has finally returned to Fairyland. After a year of hoping and wishing and being watchful every day of the week (except Sundays), she is back. However, all isn’t quite what it was when she left – Fairyland has morphed and changed and dear friends are far away. In addition to that, September is growing up and (as the narrator remarks) growing a heart, and this makes things more complicated than ever. However, her mission is clear: she must travel to Fairyland-Below and stop the shadow exodus. September is joined on her mission by a new cast of characters, and the adventures she has will not only challenge everything she holds dear, but teach her to think slantwise and sideways as well.
What was absolutely enchanting about the first Fairyland book? Answer: the world and its tone. Valente’s vision of Fairyland is unique and fanciful and turns traditional tales halfway around while adding a dollop of whipped cream to the top for good measure. Combine that setting with a witty, kind and knowing narrator, and the story seems meant to leap into your heart. In this second installment none of the charm is lost, but there is a slightly darker edge, a loneliness that wasn’t there in the first. September (and the reader) must work harder to trust and find friends – she weighs her actions, hesitates – all the things that creatures do as they grow up. It makes for haunting reading.
In all, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland is a spectacular sequel, and a book that deserves a place on your shelf. It has a character named Halloween, which is practically perfect for the season. I urge you to read it and its predecessor and fall in love with the magic of Fairyland.
Recommended for: fans of magic and wisdom and stories that fit all times and all ages.
Fine print: I picked up an ARC of The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There at BEA in June 2012.