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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing and definitely not just for the young.
Very occasionally, a book comes along which grabs you from title to blurb and this was one of them.
I am a sucker for a twisted fairytale, and in a sense I suppose this qualifies as that. It's narrated in an utterly delightful and direct fashion and is much more realistic (if that's possible) than most fairy stories.

I adored every second of it, and highly...
Published on 18 July 2012 by Lfletcher

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review courtesy of SteppingOutOfThePage
I've been trying hard to put off this review, or rather, trying hard to think how to rate and review it - it's been very difficult for me. I think that the only thing I can do is say it outright - this is a truly fantastic book, but it's just something that I just couldn't get away with. If I had to rate my enjoyment of this book, it'd be around 2 stars, but if I had to...
Published on 18 May 2012 by Stepping Out of the Page


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing and definitely not just for the young., 18 July 2012
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Very occasionally, a book comes along which grabs you from title to blurb and this was one of them.
I am a sucker for a twisted fairytale, and in a sense I suppose this qualifies as that. It's narrated in an utterly delightful and direct fashion and is much more realistic (if that's possible) than most fairy stories.

I adored every second of it, and highly recommend it.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning story made to be read aloud, 4 Jun 2012
Catherynne M. Valente is a name it's hard to miss in the SFF community. She's been twice nominated for a Hugo, won both the Tiptree and the Andre Norton Award and has won or been nominated for numerous other awards. She's also one of the SF Squeecast regulars, a podcast I listen to with pleasure every month. I follow several bloggers who adore her writing, such as The Booksmugglers and The Little Red Reviewer. Still, despite reading rave reviews and having my interest peaked every time I did so, I never got around to reading any of Valente's work. Until now that is. And after having finished The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, all I can say is "WOW!" and "Now I get it." I was blown away by this book and Valente's writing and story-telling.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - hereafter referred to as The Girl Who... - is gorgeously written. Its prose is stunning and was made for reading aloud, chock-full of alliterations, rhyming and just generally beautiful passages. And that is just the words on the page; the text is heavily layered with different meanings. Plus there are lovely allusions to other classical works such as The Wizard of Oz, The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. I had a lot of fun spotting these and making the connections. The Girl Who... would probably be a very rewarding book to reread, as I'd guess you'll find new things in it every time. The narrative is also quite self aware, with a narrator that addresses the reader directly and talks about the conventions of story-telling and warns the reader when he is about to break them. I really liked this aspect and the narrative voice, which was warm and at time gently mocking the goings-on in the book.

September is a great character. She is not such a saccharine-sweet girl as one often saw in more classic children's novel, but one with a bit of bite to her or as the Green Wind put it, 'an ill-tempered and irascible enough child.' I loved that September is described as Somewhat Heartless, and Somewhat Grown and the book's explanation of how all children start out heartless and only because of this can they act like children. And her voyage through Fairyland seems to have grown her heart as well, as she never once considers abandoning her friends--well, not for very long anyway. She's a girl that takes matters into her own hands and she'll be the hero of her own tale, thank you very much, though she is glad for the help of the friends she makes along the way. Her friends are delightful. A-Through-L, the wyverary completely stole my heart and I loved his dual nature, how could I not love the child of a wyvern and a library! Saturday, the Marid, was interesting and another creature that has two sides to him. Mostly he is a sweet, shy creature, but when he is challenged for a wish he becomes scary and ferocious. Unlike in Alice in Wonderland, where all grown-ups are either bad guys or mad, in The Girl Who... grown-ups aren't made into the bad guys. No, the villain in this plot, The Marquess, is a little girl too. This a tale of growing up and finding independence without having to vilify all adults, even if they leave you alone to go to war, like September's father, or are at work all the time, like her mother. In The Girl Who... the adults are normal people - relatively though, I mean, how normal is a witch? - who can be good or bad, kind or unkind.

The Girl Who... is a story for all ages. Younger children will just see the exciting story, the quest September undertakes, while teens will perhaps see a little deeper into the story and see its wisdom about growing up. And for adults there are different layers again: the impact of the loss of a parent, how destructive our modern-day corporate and bureaucratic world is to a free spirit and that in the end life is all about losing and finding your way again, sometimes with the help of (unexpected) friends.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a fantastic story and one anyone who loves fairytales and classical children's books such as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Wizard of Oz shouldn't miss. I can't wait till the girls are old enough to read it with them - or until the book, hopefully, is translated into Dutch, which means we'll get to read it sooner - as September is a heroine they could do worse than emulate. This one of the best books I've read so far this year and I wouldn't be surprised to see it show up in my year's end list. It also means I've found yet another writer whose backlist I need to read! The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is out in paperback in the UK from Corsair on June 7th.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Sweet as cherries, bright as berries, the light of my moony sky!", 10 May 2011
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Every child wants to be whisked away to a magical land, have adventures, and set out on a fantastical quest against a tyrant.

It's a pretty typical fantasy storyline as well, and it takes something special to make such stories stand out. Catherynne Valente's "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making" is an enchanting example, filled with delightful nonsense, wryly witty prose, and a wonderfully oddball world that reminds me of a more lyrical Lewis Carroll.

A young girl named September is whisked away from her boring Nebraska home by the Green Wind, who takes her to Fairyland. But September soon finds herself traveling through Fairyland herself, encountering a soap golem, a half-library wyvern named A-Through-L, a wairwulf, the Perverse and Perilous Sea with its golden beaches, The House Without Warning, gnomish customs agents, a jeweled key, a migration of bicycles.

She also is given a quest by a pair of witches -- find the magical spoon that the cruel Marquess stole from their dead brothers. So she and the Wyverary set out to the city of Pandemonium, but soon find themselves (and a flying leopard named Saturday) on a new quest, with overwhelming results for all the people of Fairyland.

Normally, Catherynne Valente has a lush, lyrical, sensual writing style, and there's a fair amount of that in this book ("... the moon slowly fall down into the horizon and all the dark morning stars turn in the sky like a silver carousel"). Her Fairyland is a weird, sometimes dangerous place filled with countless oddball creatures (migrating bicycles!), making her story feel like a more plotcentric "Alice in Wonderland."

But since this book is meant for children, she also weaves in a wry, arch style that reminds me of some classic British prose ('As you might expect, the geographical location of the capital of Fairyland is fickle and has a rather short temper"). This gets a little twee sometimes, but Valente also weaves in a bittersweet thread as the story goes on, as well as some dark, delicately heartrending moments.

It takes a little while to warm up to September, since she is initially Heartless (like many children), and doesn't care much about what worry she might cause her parents. Then again, it's pleasant to have a heroine who goes happily into another world without moping about going home -- and despite being Heartless, September proves herself to be a sweet, compassionate girl who is just childlike enough to accept the weirdness.

Catherynne Valente blends her velvety prose with a quirky magical twist in"The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making." And she leaves the door to Fairyland open... just in case.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming modern fairy tale, 6 July 2012
The UK finally get The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland! I've been pining after this book since it was just a young ARC in the US so when Constable & Robinson contacted me offering a review copy I may have jumped up and down waving my hands in the air going, "Ooh! Ooh! Yes please! *kisses feet*" And by golly it didn't disappoint. It's as bizarre and fantastic as the blurb and cover art leads you to believe.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland (in a Ship of Her Own Making) is an utterly nonsensical, charming, and of course, brilliant book with possibly the longest title I have ever seen. The characters are utterly bursting with colour, there are little things throughout that had me giggling and at one point almost in tears, and Fairyland itself.. wow. Fairyland is a fantasy world that is entirely conscious of what it is: a fairy tale world. And while knowing this, lovingly stroking it like a precious cat. It is charming and fantastic, simultaneously it's dark and terrifying. September, the protagonist, I didn't entirely love but that was most likely because I was way too busy loving everything else in the book. Catherynne M. Valente has such imagination that you are able to completely lose yourself in Fairyland.

If you haven't read this yet, whatever your reading preferences may be, I suggest you do so. Recommend your local libraries order copies in and tell every book worm you know that this is a great book for young and old readers. It's a modern fairy tale reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz with just a dab of darkness at its' heart, just enough to rock your emotions. It is exactly the kind of book that if you don't put down quickly, you won't at all and it ends in such a way that everything is well wrapped up and you're a happy reader, but it leaves a way in for a sequel. I only wish there were more books like this one!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Girl Who Cirmumnavigated fairyland in a Ship of Her Own making, 29 July 2011
By 
Brilliant book. One of those stories which you constantly see compared to classics (modern and traditional)of the genre- Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Neil Gaiman's Coraline and Eva Ibbotson's The Secret of Platform 13- and you think it can't possibly compare. However I've read several of Valente's books and loved them, so I trusted in these grand claims and bought the book, and I;'m very happy I did so. It combines the best of her books. It's lyrical and poetic like 'Labyrinth' and full of great stories and unique, yet recognisable characters such as in the Orphan's Tales. Recommended for all lovers of fairytales and stories with spiritied heroines.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is such a fantastic book, the title alone made me desperate to read it and the rest of the series too!, 1 Oct 2014
This review is from: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Paperback)
Synopsis:

The story follows a young girl named September as she lives her every day boring life but is swept away into fairyland. She meets wonderful new creatures and embarks on an adventure. But the leader of fairyland – the marquess is not all that she seems. The marquess demands September collect a magical object for her deep in the woods, or the marquess will do terrible things to the new friends she has made. And so, September journeys on to find the talisman and save the residents of fairyland.

Review:

This book appeared on my Goodreads timeline, with someone else having just started reading it. On hearing the title “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making” I instantly had to find out more. It’s a beautiful title with an especially beautiful cover, in fact all the books in the series – there’s currently two more and another few on the way! – have incredibly clever titles and beautiful covers. Beautiful is perhaps the best way to describe Catherynne M Valente’s work. The language is lovely, and the illustrations – drawn by Ana Juan – that grace the chapter pages just make it an incredibly wonderful read. It’s intelligent without being heavy reading, the writing is clever without being overly pretentious. I flew through the book in a matter of days as I just could not get enough.

The book is aimed at children/young adults but it’s perfect for anyone of any age who enjoys a good read. It’s light hearted, the characters are beautifully imagined. My personal favourite being the wyverary A-through-L. A creature that is part wyvern and part library. The book has a very Alice in Wonderland feel to it, as well as sometimes reminding me of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, perhaps with regards to the narrator that occasionally pops his head in.

The story is in essence, a coming of age story, but it’s told in a highly imaginative, original way. It can be funny, silly and clever all in a single page. I definitely recommend this one for anyone who might be looking for something on the lighter side, or someone who’s just looking for something a bit different.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review courtesy of SteppingOutOfThePage, 18 May 2012
By 
I've been trying hard to put off this review, or rather, trying hard to think how to rate and review it - it's been very difficult for me. I think that the only thing I can do is say it outright - this is a truly fantastic book, but it's just something that I just couldn't get away with. If I had to rate my enjoyment of this book, it'd be around 2 stars, but if I had to rate the quality of the book, I can honestly say that it'd probably be around 4 or 5 stars.

This book is set in Fairyland and it is obvious that is where we are - the whole setting, the characters... absolutely everything in this book is magical. The writing was lovely - the imagery was very vivid without being overly descriptive. This book is so quotable - there were so many lovely phrases and ideas used throughout. I particularly liked the direct narration to the audience - it was strong, sometimes emotional and very easy to connect to the messages. There's nothing wrong with Valente's writing, it is very clear that she is talented.

September, our twelve year old main character is quite real, she has the inquisitiveness, the curiosity and the braveness of a child and it is good to see Fairyland through a child's eyes, it makes it even more special. It wasn't just September who was imaginative and whimsical though, the other characters we are introduced to are just as intriguing, if not more so. I absolutely loved the character 'A through L' (or Ell), a wyvern who was just so friendly, fun and totally loyal to September throughout her journey. A myriad of other supporting characters with equally bizarre names are scattered throughout the book and they are also very amusing.

So why didn't I enjoy this as much as I could? It was confusing. It was one of those things that just went over my head. It was all, quite frankly, nonsense, but it's meant to be - I just guess that's not for me. I think that thought that the separate sections are the stories were quite interesting and it did help me to follow things a little bit, but it was a bit too random for me and the jumping around from place to place, person to person, left me lost.

Overall, I really do not want to put anyone off reading this book - I think a lot of people will appreciate it and love it. Valente is a genius for writing this (extremely) creative piece of writing and I only wish I could've followed it more. If you're looking to get carried away into a fantasy world and meet lots of magical creatures, this one is for you. If you're easily confused, perhaps try a few pages until you fully commit to it. I will be posting an excerpt of the book on the blog tour soon, so hopefully then you'll be able to see for yourself if it's your kind of thing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Alice in Wonderland for a more modern age?, 8 Nov 2012
By 
Mark (Southampton, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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In feel, this has a charm that reminds me of Victorian writing at its very best but without any of the cloying sweetness... well, with very little of it at any rate.

The villains are properly villainous and there heroes are nicely flawed. The use of language is nothing short of beautiful. The plot is strong. The imagination is immense.

This is a wonderful book that deserves a bigger audience. I am not sure that teenage girls can be persuaded to read this and not rush on to Twilight and Twilight clones but I hope that they will find this and love it. Of course, I am not in the target demographic for this book and so I feel free to say that it well worth reading at any age, either gender. Some of the language would be a little challenging for pre-teen but well worth the effort.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairyland, 1 July 2012
By 
Jenny, Wondrous Reads (UK) - See all my reviews
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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, or Fairyland, as I will now refer to it, really, really surprised me. I thought it looked good from the cover (I love dragons, or Wyverns as I was soon told), but really I had no idea what to expect. The title is an odd one, and it did out me off a bit, I'm not going to lie. But that cover illustration is what drew me in, and I'm so glad it did.

I've been pondering this review for a while, wondering how much to say and what to give away. Fairyland strikes me as the kind of book you ned to read blind, knowing nothing about it and not knowing what to expect. That way in can knock you off your feet with its magic and general loveliness.

There are a whole wacky mix of characters in Fairyland, ranging from human to weather elements to Wyverns and lamps. They're all endearing and lovable, and I even liked the slightly darker characters that peppered the pages every now and then. Valente's writing is so beautiful and descriptive, it's hard not to get lost in Fairyland and experience everything September is experiencing.

Speaking of September, what a cool girl she is. She's clever and practical, and her heart is as big as Fairyland itself. As brilliant as she is, September isn't my favourite character - that title belongs to The Green Wind. Although he doesn't crop up in the book a lot, when he does it's well worth the wait for his appearance. He's one of the most magical characters to grace the page, and I just wish he was in it more. Maybe we'll see more of him in the sequel? I certainly hope so.

Fairyland's text is accompanied by amazing illustrations courtesy of Ana Juan, which alone are worth the book price. I couldn't wait to get to a new chapter and see which illustration would be waiting for me. My favourite is still the one that appears on the cover, which by now you've probably guessed is depicting September and A-Through-L the Wyvern.

I'm sorry this review is kind of vague, but I don't want to spoil any part of Fairyland. I want people to read it and get swept away like I did, and be surprised when a new kooky character shows up. This is fantasy fiction at its best, and I hope it's a big hit over here in England. I know it's gone down a storm in the US, so let's hope it gets the recognition it deserves over here too. Add this one to your wish lists immediately!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic, 21 Jun 2012
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This book is pure joy!

Who doesn't love fairytales?

September is swept away from Omaha by the Green Wind riding the Leopard of Little Breezes. As they travel away from the world the Green Wind offers her advice and teaches her the rules she must always remember - and then she arrives in Fairyland and her adventures begin. As she travels around this amazing realm she encounters witches called Hello and Goodbye, a Wyvern called A-Through-L (his father was a library!), Calpurnia Farthing (a velocipeder) with her ward Penny, a blue boy called Saturday and, of course, The Marquess. The Marquess has a task for September and it is difficult and dangerous, of course!

This book is wonderful. I just loved it. Ms Valente has a glorious imagination and her use of images relating to colour is superb, especially in the Autumn Provinces. Here it is constantly Autumn, and everything is clothed in bright oranges, reds and yellows. Nothing changes, but everything changes in this season of the year as the natural world moves from summer - the height of its strength and beauty to its death in Winter. I also love the way that the Marquess's hair constantly changes colour as she is talking to September. For a book with text and some (extremely appealing) black and white illustration, this a story full of bright and spectacular colour.

This is a kind of "Pilgrim's Progress" meets "Alice in Wonderland" sort of story, but it is entirely original. Younger readers will love the creatures and characters that inhabit this weird and wonderful land (just imagine, the town of Mercurio built entirely of bread and cake!), but older readers - and even adults - will find plenty to enjoy as the writing is inventive and beautiful. Once again I have to say, this book is pure joy!
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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (Paperback - 17 Jan 2013)
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