May 20, 2011

Book Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (and a giveaway)

Sometimes a book gobsmacks me, and I have to tell the world about it. This is the case with Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

The Green Wind blows into Nebraska and asks a young girl named September if she’d like to go to Fairyland. Being a brave and smart girl and quite ready to take a break from home, September says yes. She flies out the window on a leopard into a place that is familiar but yet entirely unexpected. A wyvern, a wairwulf, migrating bicycles, and a city made of fabric are just a few of the delights of Fairyland. Though wonderful, Fairyland is not all glitter and gold. September learns of unfriendly ruler, The Marquess, soon after her arrival. She decides to take a path that will lead her right to The Marquess’ door. Adventure, lessons, madness, bravery, pain, and laughter ensue. Sometimes they happen all at once.

I really just want to squee and tell you to read it NOW, but I’ll try to tell you why I loved The Girl Who… in a coherent fashion.

I was fortunate and got to hear Cat Valente read an excerpt of this book on her tour (there are still a few stops remaining). I think I had a dopey smile on my face the whole time because I was just so enchanted by the single chapter she and her friend (he read the part of the Wyverary) read. The key word is enchanted. I knew after reading the first paragraph that this book is one I will treasure and go back to for the rest of my life. Valente writes with a style that is luscious but not flowery. Every sentence feels real and true, if that makes sense. The characters are not the plain vanilla good or evil that you find in most fairytales. Even September, the heroine, is a little selfish at times. She is not Dorothy, she is not Wendy. Nothing against them, but I like the cut of September’s jib much better. I prefer shades of gray. The creatures September meets are more than they appear to be. The Wyverary is half-Wyvern and half-library. Underneath his majestic presence, he’s figuring out who or what he is. The layers are subtly added under all of Fairyland. It’s more than a foreign place with marvels unheard of; it’s a foreign place with politics and oppression and a gritty underbelly that makes it feel real. September has to navigate through the inhabitants, the world, and a sea to complete her quest. Even though her journey is fraught with danger and the scary unknown, it is also filled with beauty. Valente’s creativity is mind-blowing. Really. Add to all of this some lovely art by Ana Juan, and I don’t know how you could resist. I’m glad I got to travel through Fairyland with September, and I think you will be, too.

September & the Wyverary by Ana Juan
If you have ever wished to be swept away to a magical place, if you enjoy words that drip with images, and if you need a little inspiration to say “yes,” – this book is for you. I could extend those qualifiers for at least a few paragraphs, so just go pick it up or get it from a library or download it to your e-reader.

Actually, I believe so heartily that everyone needs to read this book that I want to give you a copy. How do you enter? I’m going to follow the guidelines the author used in a giveaway she held.
  • Tweet about the book, blog about the book, write a note on Facebook, mention it somewhere publicly on the interwebs. CLARIFICATION: You do not have to link to this post, just promote the book itself.
  • Comment on this post with a link to said promotion by Friday, May 27 at 9pm PST.
  • Subscribe to comments on the post to see if you won.
That’s it! I’ll pick a winner from the comments using a random number generator the night of May 27. I’ll post the winner in the comments and you’ll need to contact me with your address.

For anyone that can’t wait, you can buy the book on Amazon:
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making


  1. Hi, I have written about your post, and about the book here:
    It's a blog in Norwegian. Still, I'd love to win the book, and if I do, I have an address in Florida you can send it to.
    Hugs Barbarella

  2. For a girl who grew up wanting to be Alice, this book sounds like it was written for me! I have tweeted about the book on my twitter account @KymmyHoff

  3. Thanks for the recommendation! I tweeted about it! (@_jfo)

  4. Been wanting to read this, and I can't wait! Thanks for the heads up! You have officially been blogged about. boop!



  6. I blogged about it!

  7. Loved your post about the book! Super excited about the giveaway. I mentioned it on the most recent edition of my podcast, Flash Cast.

  8. Only 2 chapters read so far, on my Kindle, but I LOVE it so far! I definitely have a number of friends that I'd really like to pass a physical copy along to to read.!/geekofelvenkind/status/74242980667592704 Tweeting and FB'ing friends about this one.

  9. Posted about it on my twitter:

    It's on my wishlist for now, don't have any book money in the budget :(

  10. Gah! This totally sounds like it was written for me! Epic, I don't win, I'll be hitting up Amazon pronto. Tweeting about it @dknj727

  11. on a side note, also linked back to this site @

  12. Thank you guys for help spreading excitement about this book!

    I used the trusty number generator at, and the winner is commenter 6 - Ray J!

    Ray J - please email me at with your address!

  13. I like the post format as you create user engagement in the complete article. It seems round up of all published posts. Thanks for gauging the informative posts. best mountain bike under 1000


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