One Book – Two Views: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

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Review from Sally906:

THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN is the first book in the fairyland series which is getting rave reviews across the world. However, I just didn’t get it, in fact I found it extremely difficult to get into the imaginative, but very odd, story and, importantly, none of the characters actually drew me in and demanded I stay. The closest character I came to like was the book-loving Wyvern called A-Through-L, and he was loquacious and boring.

Look, there was SO much going on in the story, often all at once, with lots of mentions of other past and future adventures being thrown into the mix every few paragraphs, making story was hard to track. Then on top of that there were lots of characters being thrown at me one after the other without me being given the chance to bond with any of them. But wait there’s more! The main problem was I didn’t even bond with the strange child who is the centre of the story, September. For me to really enjoy a story I need to have feelings about, or be able to relate to, the main character – even if it is a severe dislike – the character needs to evoke some sort of emotion from me. But author Catherynne M Valente aroused no emotions from me for September; in fact even September didn’t seem to care about what happened to September. So if the main character is apathetic to her own fate – why should I care whether she gets eaten by river monsters, or killed by a witch? Don’t get me wrong Valente obviously has superb mastery of the English language – but it was if she put so much effort into her words, and waxed lyrical about every little thing, that the story got lost amongst the descriptions. The world building was absolutely amazing – but then it was peopled with characters that remained as flat as the pages I was reading.

As I said, THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN has got rave reviews, so I am clearly in the minority here. It is listed for readers aged 10+, this stuns me as it would have to be a very advanced 10 year old who could read this. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under the age of 15. A lot of this is to do with the style in which it is written, not the concept of adventures in fairyland.

I kept think of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz – all bizarre stories if you think about them logically, but full of wonderful characters and words which pull you in – not leave you leaping for the dictionary every few minutes. In fact there is even mention made of a wardrobe that connects you to other worlds, so the author must be familiar with these works. Her version of a magical adventure just didn’t work for me – but as I have already mentioned it as lots of good reviews from other readers – so just but not my cup of tea.

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Review from Lioness:

I’m always a fan of a good portal fantasy, where the protagonists start in our world and cross over to a world of fantasy, such as Chronicles of Narnia, Wizard of Oz, or one of my favorite books The Phantom Tollbooth.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (henceforth GWC) had the same of sort of fantastical adventure as The Phantom Tollbooth as September leaves her life for an adventure to Fairyland. She joins up with A-Through-L, aka “Ell”.  Ell is a wyverary, which is the offspring of a wyveryn and a library, and ended up being my favorite character.

GWC has a good sense of wordplay which made the book fun to read and I enjoyed the plot and how it all came together in the end. My only issue with GWC is I found it easy to put down, and I prefer when books make me want to keep reading.

I do plan to continue the series and look forward to reading the rest of the series, especially with the ending.

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