The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M Valente

Just finished reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (henceforth known as TGWCF) which in the words of Holly Black is “A mad, toothsome romp of a fairy tale”

The GWCF is a lovely, beautifully written fairytale come adventure which I think both adults and children would equally enjoy and I think it would make an excellent story to read out loud.

The story features a 12 year old girl called September who is spirited away one evening on the back of a Leopard of Little Breezes accompanied by a Green Wind.  September is a somewhat lonely child, her father is away at war, her mother works long hours in a factory and September, being of a whimsical nature, longs for adventure.  Her wish is, of course, about to be granted.

This is a lovely tale beautifully written and illustrated and incorporating such a lot of new ideas.  As I was reading I had so many things running through my mind, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and the Chronicles of Narnia not to mention Labyrinthe, The Never Ending Story and Peter Pan and the author clearly gives a shout out to a few of these during the chapter headed ‘The Island of the Nasnas’ where during a discussion regarding how one enters fairyland, apart from as a changeling or ravished ‘… there’s those that Stumble through a gap in the hedgerows or a mushroom ring or a tornado or a wardrobe full of winter coats.”  But, for me, the beauty of this book is that whilst feeling similar to so many family favourites and provoking such nostalgia in me as I read, it is actually not like any particular one.  Sometimes it was as though I had a fleeting notion of something but it disappeared before I could give it more thought or pin it firmly down.

In terms of characters – of which there are an abundance – let’s firstly talk about September.  An odd little girl, strangely down to earth.  She’s described in the book as irascible and heartless and yet clearly neither is really true as she proves on a number of occasions by putting herself at risk and refusing the easy way out, insisting instead upon helping her friends.  She shows plenty of heart really and is quite the adventurer.  I did feel so sorry for her on a number of occasions but she never really moped about – she shed the odd tear but pretty soon recovered and continued on her quest.  Alongside this we have the Marquess and her pet cat – the villain of the piece – I won’t mention more here except the Marquess turns out to be something of a surprise on more than one count  My absolute favourite of the peace though, without doubt – was A through L, otherwise known as Ell, a gorgeous scaly Wyverary (which I’ve never heard of before and simply thought was a dragon which shows how much I know).  I love this character.  On top of this we have an abundance of characters, usually strangely named, who put in an appearance at the appropriate time.

I don’t really want to say much more here as it will spoil the story.  Simply, if you’re young at heart and enjoy a good fairy tale then The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making could be for you and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  The end.

Now, I had a think about whether I could include this for my RIP event, so I rechecked and I think I can – I think this falls into ‘supernatural’ – come on – it has a Wyverary!  Check out this event here – you’re still not too late to join in!


15 Responses to “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M Valente”

  1. Redhead

    isn’t this just a wonderful, joyful book to read? Even the scary-ish parts, you have a huge smile on your face while reading, because the language is like look at your favorite painting and discovering some new detail. sigh. I so love Catherynne Valente! and the 2nd book in the series? is even better.

    hubby and I got to see her at a book signing not too far from where we live, she says this is going to be a series of 5 books! squee!!

    • lynnsbooks

      This is such a great way to indulge the inner child. The writing is lovely and on top of that it’s such a beautiful book. This is my first book of CV but if she carries on in this vein perhaps she’s going to become my own female counterpart to Gaiman.
      Lynn 😀

  2. jessicabookworm

    Sounds like a truly wonderful read, it is definitely going on my list 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      It is a lovely book to indulge in for certain.
      Lynn 😀

  3. "Auntie"

    Oh thank you. I must read this book!!!!!!


    • lynnsbooks

      I hope you do. It’s lovely and it made me feel quite nostalgic. I read the Wizard of Oz many years ago, in fact the same with many of my old favourites and it made me remember them fondly. I sometimes think I should go back and revisit but I’m almost scared to do so in case I spoil my own memory of them.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Iris

    I cannot wait to read this. It has been waiting on my shelves for some time now, but I simply want to keep it for when the time is just right!

    • lynnsbooks

      I think that time is now!! Particularly as book 2 is out so no long wait (although, maybe it would be best to have a measured approach – there are going to be 5 books in total!! And I hate long waits)
      Lynn 😀

      • Iris

        I want to pick it up as comfort read & when I have the time. I anticipate loving it as every one of my favourite bloggers have. I didn’t know there were going to be 5 books in total, that’s nice 🙂

  5. TBM

    This one sounds fun…I could use a little fun right now.

  6. Carol

    I read this one with my daughter a while ago and wanted to like it. It just didn’t work for me, though, and I think it’s for the same reason that I have Alice in Wodnerland. I can’t quite put my finger on what the reason is, maybe I’m just not in touch with my inner child.

    • lynnsbooks

      I think you’re in touch with your inner child – just seen your Witch Humbug review. It just doesn’t mean you have to like all the same books! I think I liked this a lot because it reminded me very much of The Wizard of Oz. I read that book when I was very young and so reading this brought back nice memories. Probably if I read the WoO now I might not like it as much or might be disappointed somehow. What about the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – do you like that? I must admit that I’ve read Alice in Wonderland – and Through the Looking Glass – they’re a bit psychedelic in parts to say the least.
      Lynn 😀

  7. kristi

    I’m glad to hear you loved this one. I keep seeing rave reviews. It’s on my TBR list. Hopefully I can get to it soon.

    • lynnsbooks

      I hope you enjoy it. It made me feel nostalgic.
      Lynn 😀

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