Author: Catherynne M. Valente.
Published: May 10th 2011 by Feiwel & Friends.
Sort: Fairyland #1.
Source: Sinterklaas present from Judith!
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.
It definitely took a while to get used to the writing-style. The sentences are long and filled with details. Catherynne has a special choice of words and it gives this book a fairytale-esque feeling. I don’t think this is something everyone will like, but if you give this book some time, I’m sure you will be wrapped into the story. Here is an example:
“One ought not to judge her: all children are Heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb high trees and say shocking things and leap so very high grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one. But, as in their reading and arithmetic and drawing, different children proceed at different speeds. (It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.) Some small ones are terrible and fey, Utterly Heartless. Some are dear and sweet and Hardly Heartless At All. September stood very generally in the middle on the day the Green Wind took her, Somewhat Heartless, and Somewhat Grown.”
It also surprised me that this book is targeted as MG, because I think it's a little difficult for younger children to read such a book. Perhaps read it together with them, because it's quite a challenge if you let them have this adventure on their own.
The story is filled with all these magical creatures in a fun setting; Fairyland. There is a Wyvern
who is one of September’s new best friends, there is a golem made out of soap and witches. They are all fleshed out and make a colorful cast. The funny thing is that my favourite character isn’t September. Yes, she is a wonderful, young girl who is ready for adventure. She is brave and a clever little girl, but the Wyvern A-through-L stole the spotlight for me. I think it’s because of his passion for words! There is also a good villain present. The Marquess provides an interesting story and I liked her background. Villains with depth are always more interesting than plain evil ones.
I very much look forward to more adventures from September in Fairyland, because her one time visit has turned out into something more.