Catherynne Valente painted a world with Russian mythology which I slipped into and devoured when I read her novel Deathless. Her writing style, to me, is fiction-poetry. Her descriptions, phrases, and story telling captivated me in a way few books have and I walked away knowing one thing: I wanted more.
A book rule that I have for myself is that Christmas and my birthday are two points of the year where I can spoil myself. Be-gone rules of not buying books! During those two celebrations I do as I please and for this past Christmas I decided to spoil myself with a small book buying spree; it was then that I purchased The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.
Let it be known: this is a chapter book aimed towards kids but it's incredibly enjoyable. I've found, as I've gotten old enough to appreciate the childhood I was so eager to leave behind, that books which remind me of classic story telling thrill me. I can easily picture myself curled up in a chair while being read to; or the more probable fantasy now being that I am the one reading to a couple of kids.
The story has a typical beginning: September is offered the chance to go to fairyland and like any curious child she quickly agrees to go. She is swept away by the Green Wind (who is a gentleman in a green coat which takes an instant liking to September) and the Leopard of Little Breezes to Fairyland. She goes through different experiences all before entering the land but the fun doesn't stop there. Once within she befriends creatures she has never heard of (nor, likely, have you) and shows her true determination and compassion.
The story is as quick paced and wild as the wind which took September to Fairyland. There are scary moments (a storm, turning into a tree) and moments of happiness (a wedding and reunions). But staying true to the writing style I fell in love with while reading Deathless, Valente continued to create a world that was easy to believe and many points of the book had me reaching for pen and paper so I could write down quotes.
September is a determined and clever young girl. She faces her own death and hungry big cats; while she will often feel she is weak and second guesses her actions she is much stronger than she realizes -- something that many people young and old have a tendency not to recognize within themselves.
There are more adventures from September which I am eager to get my hands on. Valente is a queen when it comes to fantasy and imagination. She owns this type of writing in ways that other author's wish they could have this level of talent.
If you have enjoyed other Valente books, Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, or His Dark Materials you will likely enjoy this book as well and no matter your age, you should check it out.