The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente (Fairyland, Bk. 2)
Read by S. J. Tucker
Length: 8 Hrs 18 Min
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Quick Thoughts: THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH FAIRYLAND AND LED THE REVELS THERE maintains all the magic, dark adventure and vicarious joy of the first novel, and builds on it with delightful results. Catherynne M. Valente’s twists of classic fairytales and portal fantasies is a magical joyride for people of all ages.
It’s been a year since September has returned from Fairyland, where she had grand adventures, made fabulous new friends and helped overthrow the Marquess who wanted to prevent any other little girls from crossing over into Fairyland. A year of patient waiting for her father to return from the war, for her 13th birthday, and for the wind to sweep her back to Fairyland where now that the darkness has been defeated she can delight in the magic and the company of her friends. Yet, when she finally does return, nothing is right. Someone has been coming up from Fairyland Below and stealing the shadows of those from Fairyland Above, and September suspects that the shadow thief may be her own shadow she left behind a year ago. OK, let‘s screw suspense, people…. I LOVE LOVE LOVED this book. This book made me want to have kids just so someday I can introduce them to the wonderful world of Fairyland where young girls can be bishops, markets run wild, shadows can dance and play, and science is a device searching for it’s use. Catherynne M. Valente’s twists of classic fairytales and portal fantasies is a magical joyride for people of all ages, from wide eye children to gruff brutish, emotionally distant, socially awkward almost 40 year old men like myself. Following September’s adventures in Fairyland is the closest I have come to reliving those days when I would give anything to travel to Narnia or Oz and have grand adventures with talking animals, ogres and ghouls, and maybe have tea with a family of beavers. THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH FAIRYLAND AND LED THE REVELS THERE maintains all the magic, dark adventure and vicarious joy of the first novel, and builds on it with delightful results.
There is so much in the book I loved that it’s would almost be easier to write a checklist of awesomeness. While you may miss out on the illustrations that come with the print version, the story itself is perfect for audio. Valente, in the form of a nameless narrator, tells this story in a conversational tone. The narrator acts as a conspiratorial conduit for the tale, letting the reader in on bits and bobbles and tiny secrets that the characters of the book are not privy to. She is quick to defend September for her often rash manner, explaining to us about how she is just now finding her heart, and is just getting used to it. This style truly pulls the reader into the tale, becoming more than an outside observer, but investing themselves into September’s adventure. I was amazed at the small and subtle moments of wisdom that Valente sneaks into her tale, flipping typical platitudes on their heads, and revealing as much about our world as Fairyland through the absurdity and wonder of it’s denizen’s. Small words of wisdom about ones "bone’s desire" and how you never forget what you do during war, ring even more true through the innocents of these characters. Like the first novel, Valente create magic through the mundane, taking regular items and having them act in irregular ways. Often times, the magic that forms is more in the altering of perceptions of everyday things than on spells and potions. While I am not a parent, I am an uncle, and I feel this book is one that little girls should read to understand their true potential, and little boys should read to understand little girls. Also, adults, because adults should always take moments in their lives to remember what it was like to be children. While THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH FAIRYLAND… is all these things I have mentioned in theme and execution, it is also a delightful, suspenseful and engaging story full of magic humor and wonderful characters. Most of the characters from the first novel, or some altered version of them, return, and often it surprising ways. Old friends become new enemies, and old enemies are surprising allies. Also, there are a couple of crows because crows are awesome. As I said, I could go on rambling and rambling about the many reasons I loved this book, and will probably hate myself tomorrow when I realized I missed 10 or 20 more, but just know I loved this book, and if you still have a heart somewhere, whether you remember how to use it or not, you will love it too.
THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH FAIRLYAND AND LED THE REVELS THERE had been languishing on my TBL pile for a while, and the only reason I decided to listen to it at this time was due to a malfunction in my planned audiobook. So, with all this love of the book, why wait? My hesitation was solely from the change in narrator. This first novel was read wonderfully by the author, and I balked at a new voice taking over these delightful characters, particularly in a narrator I have never experienced before. So, it was somewhat of a shock to me when I absolutely fell in love with S. J. Tucker’s performance of this novel. She has a rich exotic voice, with a bit of spice that perfectly fed into the otherworldly magic of the novel. Tucker reads it with an unrecognizable accent, something not quite American and not quite British, but somewhere in between, adding a lyrical cadence to made the simplest line sing with poetry. I have always said, when talking about audiobooks, that readers can hear a smile, yet, with S. J. Tucker’s performance you can hear the shades of the narrator’s grin from the sly smile to the devilish Cheshire. While I am not sure if it was planned, Tucker’s performance seemed to have a continuity with Valente’s. I suffered no dissonance, each character felt right to me, as if I had already spend plenty of time on adventure with them. There were so many wonderfully memorable moments in this production, but I would be remised if I didn’t mention the rhyming goblin sales pitch, which was wonderfully written and performed and a joy to experience. As I mentioned early, this series is almost tailor made for audio, and S. J. Tucker’s beautiful performance enhanced the experience.