The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There Book Poster Image
September heads for underworld in stunning Fairyland sequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

September is an excellent student, and her remembered lessons from school often come in handy. As in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairlyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, author Valente has little time and energy to spare for laggards who can't keep up with her unabashed delight in cool words, and even adults will probably improve their vocabulary. Also, phrases in French and other foreign languages are sometimes important to the story.

Positive Messages

Friendship, forgiveness, and family love are strong themes here, as are bravery, resourcefulness, and a strong conscience. The narrator also forces the reader to consider different characters' experience, and how their attitudes and behavior result from it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

September continues to delight, undertaking dangerous quests and harrowing challenges to restore the place and help the characters she loves. Her shadowy companions have some of their characters' strong qualities, as well as assorted quirks all their own; many characters teach valuable lessons or come to the rescue in the nick of time, and even the scariest villains turn out to have unexpected good qualities.

Violence

While there's no graphic violence, its emotional impact is everywhere. The whole premise of characters' shadows being snatched away to the underworld is sinister, and there are some scary scenes of terrified characters being pursued by the shadow-snatcher. September's father is away at war, and she's afraid he'll be killed.

Sex

September is kissed multiple times without her consent; another kiss goes better. While the issues are presented with matter-of-fact breeziness as part of fairy-tale reality rather than dwelt on with prurient interest, some observant kids may have questions about characters' long-lost same-sex loves and other characters' interspecies romances and offspring.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the characters who's escaped to Fairyland is fleeing an abusive, drunken father.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, like its predecessor, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, the second book in the series, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, is hugely imaginative, lushly written, and emotionally rich. Some adult subjects, from war and abusive parents to reproduction and same-sex romance, are part of the story's complex fabric, usually to define the scene, the characters, and the connections between worlds. While there's no graphic violence, there are some scary scenes of terrified characters being pursued by a shadow-snatcher bent on taking their shadows to the underworld. Once again, readers will often find themselves consulting a dictionary to keep up with author Catherynne M. Valente's vocabulary (in several languages). Those reading aloud who found themselves unable to continue through their tears at the end of the last book should consider this a heads-up that there are more such extreme moments of poignant sweetness here.

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Teen, 17 years old Written byPortia0623 September 28, 2017

What's the story?

As September, heroine of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, turns 13, World War II goes on, her father is still fighting in France, her mother still works long days in the aircraft factory, and the girls at school have become even meaner. When at long last she gets to return to Fairyland, she finds things much changed, mostly because of a lifesaving but fateful choice she made in the first book. The Fairyland she knows and the people in it are rapidly losing their magic because something is spiriting their shadows to Fairyland-Below. Determined to right this wrong, September heads for Fairyland-Below, where she meets some old friends -- or at least their shadows -- and many new challenges.

Is it any good?

This is a real stunner, a tour de force of imagination and heart with plenty to offer kids and adults, a compelling story, and characters who stick with you long after the last page has been turned. (Good news: Next book in the series is due in October 2013.)

Catherynne M. Valente's writing style is ornately descriptive and gleefully verbose, which might have been a disaster but instead brings lots of unexpected delights with its constant barrage of fanciful characters, comedy, and wise remarks. Ana Juan's illustrations are dark, often funny, and add more dimension to the characters.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the world of Fairyland-Below. How does it compare with other fantasy worlds you've read about or seen in movies?

  • What do you know about rationing that happened during World War II? How would your life change if food and gasoline and other essentials of daily life were rationed?

  • If your shadow was a real person, what would he or she be like? Do you think you'd get along?

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For kids who love Fantasy and strong female characters

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