Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland...

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led The Revels There
by Catherynne M. Valente (Fairyland #2)
Published October 2nd, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends

September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows—and their magic—to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.

Fans of Valente’s bestselling, first Fairyland book will revel in the lush setting, characters, and language of September’s journey, all brought to life by fine artist Ana Juan. Readers will also welcome back good friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. But in Fairyland Below, even the best of friends aren't always what they seem. . . .
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There is the second book in the Fairyland Series.  I'd been looking forward to returning to Fairyland with September and reuniting with A-through-L the wyverary and Saturday the Marid to name a few.  The idea that the story would take place in 'Fairyland-Below' or beneath Fairyland was especially appealing to me, since it sounds darker and more mysterious.  I also knew the story would revolve around how September lost her shadow in book one and what that would entail for her and the fate of Fairyland.  I looked forward to the gorgeous prose and adventures that Catherynne M. Valente had in store for us this time.  My expectations may have been set slightly too high going in though, because as much as I enjoyed this new adventure, it didn't quite live up to it's predecessor for me.

So the story picks up a year after the events of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making but a lot of things have changed for our lovable protagonist September. It's not just her adventure in Fairyland and the subsequent loss of her shadow that are to blame though.  This time around, September is 13 years old and a proper teenager; so she's done some growing up in the past year.  Of course, it isn't long before she finds herself back in Fairyland and upon her return, she finds that she isn't the only one that's done some changing in the past year.  Fairyland itself is losing it's magic - and it's inhabitants are losing their shadows!  It seems that Fairyland-Below has a new ruler: September's own shadow, now known as Halloween, the Hollow Queen, and she's the one responsible for the missing shadows and lack of magic in the world above.  Considering Halloween's connection to September herself, it's not surprising that our little heroine feels responsible for at least trying to put things right again.

True to form, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland is beautifully written and filled with wonderful morals and life lessons.  It's charming, funny and it tugs at your heartstrings plenty of times along the way.  I cannot praise Catherynne M. Valente enough for reimagining fairytales in such a fresh and relevant way.  I also thought it was really exciting to explore Fairyland-Below and all of it's inhabitants.  As you can imagine, there was a wide array of quirky characters to get to know!  The coolest thing though had to be getting acquainted with the shadow selves of beloved Fairyland characters.  Not just September's own shadow self but A-through-L's and Saturday's too! Seeing the differences and similarities between the actual characters and their shadows was definitely a highlight.

For whatever reason though, the plot seemed to move slower this time around.  It's like nothing significant happened for at least the first half of the story.  September didn't really have a plan going in, so I guess it's to be expected but it just sort of dragged a bit there at first.  I'd mentioned in my review for the first book that this is the type of story that can't be rushed, well the same holds true for the sequel and the combination of the two just made it seem even slower this time around.  And I mean you guys know I read my fair share of high-fantasies brimming with extensive descriptions and world-building, so it's not like I don't read slower paced books. Without much world-building needed and since we were familiar with the world, I just expected things to get going quicker than they did and since they didn't, I just didn't feel as absorbed in the story as I had for my first trip to Fairyland.

The other thing that was a bit of a bummer was specifically due to the fact that The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland dealt with the shadow selves of our beloved characters.  And I hear you thinking: didn't you say the shadows were one of your favorite parts of this book?  I did indeed say that.  BUT: exploring Fairyland Below and the shadows that inhabited it meant that the real characters like A-through-L and Saturday were largely absent from this story.  Despite exploring new grounds, I had still been looking forward to September reuniting with her friends, so their absence was something of a letdown.

All things considered, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There was still a solid addition to the series, but in my case it was simply a case of my expectations not matching up with the story that was being told.  Once the plot picked up around mid-way (which is quite quick since the page count for these is fairly low), I was once again fully immersed in September's adventure!  I still don't think the sequel quite lives up to the first book though, but it was still an engaging and worthwhile read.  I'll definitely be going on with the series and I'm hoping next time all the secondary characters return full-swing!

12 comments:

  1. I've been interested in the first book. Didn't even know about this one. I'm not a big fairy tale fan, but I think I'll try it someday. Thanks for the excellent recommendations.

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    1. It's definitely very different from your run of the mill MG-fairytale so it's worth checking out. The writing style itself is just beautiful beyond words! Thanks for stopping by Annette :)

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  2. Gahhh, I need to read this series. I kind of just skimmed your review because I haven't read the first one yet, but so many people have told me I need to. And now I guess there's a new series coming out? About a boy? But yeah. I don't really read MG, but this one sounds like something I need to check out - the writing sounds amazing.

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    1. Yeah, it has a truly unique take on the sort of classic fairy tale but modernized to some degree. The prose is soooo beautiful, that alone makes them worth the read to me. The MC's and side characters are absolutely adorable. The new book announced is apparently part of the original series, just with a new (boy) MC...I'm hoping the current MC will take part in some way, but we'll have to wait and see I guess LOL I'd be curious to see what you'd think coming from a non-MG reader :)

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  3. I've been meaning to read this books for sooooooo long! I will definitely make sure to pick up the first book since it sounds like you adored it ;-)

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    1. Awww I think you would really enjoy these Anya :D I did enjoy the first book more BUT I seem like the odd one out here - everyone else loved it just as much, if not more. Might just be a case of bad timing on my part.

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  4. I absolutely adore these books...I swear I thought I just commented, but here I go again. Did you see the cover reveal for the fourth book? It looks great and I'm so excited that we will get a fresh new character.

    I agree I missed the main secondary characters in this one. I'll be starting up some fan art for this series sometime this summer. Any excuse to draw a Dragon!

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    1. Oh no - I'm sorry you had a hard time commenting :( but thanks for doing so again! I love these too and I'm excited to read book 3 - so I can properly await the 4th ones release haha And the new MC is exciting BUT I hope September still makes an appearance. I love that girl ♥

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  5. I love the premise of these and need to pick them up! They sound like such fun. It stinks you didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first, but I hope you love the third! Weird that a second book would be slow-paced. Great review, though! :D

    Rachel @ Paper Cuts

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    1. Yeah they're quite original and fun! I wish I'd enjoyed the sequel more but often times the 2nd book in a series is a bit of a letdown for me...BUT I still enjoyed it! Hopefully you love the series too once you get into them :D And I agree, I hope the 3rd brings it back for me haha

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  6. Well, that is too bad to hear that this one didn't quite live up to its predecessor because one would hope the books in a series would get better and better with each book. But it still sounds like it's not to be missed and thus I'm still very much excited to dig into this series at some point. The writing sounds absolutely divine, and the characters as well. I love how the book seems to have a fairytale feel to it with morals and such. I hope the next book doesn't fall into the same trap as this one and picks up the pace a bit more. I'm all for extensive world building, but once that's done, I agree that it's time to pick up the pace a bit! Anyways, thanks for the helpful review, Micheline - hopefully I can read this series soon!

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    1. I know right, the dreaded 2nd book curse strikes again D: The pacing just felt off compared to the previous book and nothing really happened until halfway through. STILL, I had a lot of fun reading it, it just didn't quite live up to the first book imo. I really do hope you'll check out the series soon Aylee, I'd be interested in comparing notes!

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