Thanks so much for all your cheery congrats, amigos! Now back to your regularly scheduled reviewing. It is entirely accidental but joyously appropriate that this is a review of a so-called ‘children’s book.’ I promise not to deluge you with kid-lit in future (or to start an entirely separate blog if I do), but this one will stroke your grown-up brain.
Oh Fairyland, I had my doubts about you. I heard Cat Valente read the first chapter at The Enormous Library (The One With The Lions [This One:
]) during New York Book Week, and after John Scalzi’s delighted recounting of an April Fool’s Day prank he had pulled, I was maybe not in the mood for a capricious fairytale.
And the first chapter reads very Arbitrary For Arbitraryness’ Sake, with the Green Wind whisking September out of her boring Nebraskan existence because she seems ‘an ill-tempered and irascible enough child,’ which is no reason to do anything. I mean, I get that it’s Fairyland and that things are meant to be whimsical and contrary, but even Wonderland has its own convoluted internal logic. ALL THAT TO SAY I was eventually proven wrong, and Fairyland ultimately hangs together like a well-balanced, opulent and nutty mobile.
So. September is whisked away to Fairyland to have adventures, and pokes around finding Things That Need Doing. The title is (as titles are) grossly misleading, since circumnavigating Fairyland is a small and belated part of said Things. As is, I think, usual in CatValCountry, there are Creatures: a wyvern who is convinced he’s half library (a wyverary), a golem made of soap, and a very wicked Marquess (with a fancy hat). And Valente could write a book that is literally just a parade of said Creatures, and I would be down. What else lives in your fertile brain, Cat? Moar of this business, please.
But my personal inclinations aside, doings actually transpire in Fairyland and September, along with her straggly cohort, has to Be Brave and Rescue Things and Put Down a Tyrant. And it sounds all very conventional and cliche in the summary, but the meat is delightful and the ending is unexpected and forgiving and sad.
Fairyland is that rare straddler, a book I read to myself for my own pleasure, and a book I would gladly read to my children (with frequent breaks to define ‘irascible’ and ‘widdershins.’ You will have such a vocabulary, Eventual Child of Mine! How the others will tease).
Oh Cat Valente, I would steal your brain if that wouldn’t impede your further book-writing. Eight caterpillars.