Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
by: Catherynne M. Valente
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland, #2)
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.
Another stunning fantasy that had all of the magic and whimsy from the first book and more. I did miss Ell and Saturday (as in, their not-shadow-versions) but the whole shadow aspect was really great. (I also want to point out the fantastic detail on the cover. I didn't realize this until I had finished the book, but the two shadows on the front are Halloween and Maud, September is wearing the red coat and drinking the tea, and even Gleam is there in the background!)
Things I loved:
1. September Growing a Heart
As we know from the first book, September was heartless, as all children are. But in this book she has grown the beginning of a heart. I loved that you could tell that too. You could tell that she's grown up since the last book; she's older and more used to adventure. I can see all of the character development that she's gone through. She is becoming the heroine that she has always wanted to be.
2. Halloween, The Hallow Queen
Otherwise known as September's shadow. The whole idea of shadows being like the real versions, with the same experiences, but also very different. They often reacted differently than their counterparts  because they were so used to being overlooked. September said many times that she would not have made the choices that Halloween made. And that Halloween is September if she had never learned that you cannot have everything; that sometimes you have to choose between things you love equally well just to keep the world from falling apart. But in the end I felt sorry for Halloween, because she wasn't truly a villain. She was just a little girl's shadow who was lonely and hurting.
3. The Side Characters
All of the people that September meets in Fairyland-Below are just as wacky and interesting as the people she met in Fairyland-Above. Including the Jarlhopp, Belinda Cabbage, and the Glashtyn. Once again, the people she met added whimsy and wackiness to the world.
3. The Cream and Sugar Wars.
Sure, these were only mentioned once, but oh my goodness, I loved the history lesson they gave about the coffees and the teas. It just made me laugh. I really liked all of the things that happened in the Duke of Teatime's and the Vicereine of Coffee's cottage. Including September deciding to be a Baron and the Duke and Vicereine choosing which beverage was best for her. It was just a lovely thing to read.
4. Wit and Study
Just like with the Jeweled Key in the first book, as soon as I forgot about Wit and Study they came popping back up into the story. And I absolutely love that. Then they returned into the story at just the right time to help September out.
5. Physicks and Physickists
Whether it was Quiet Physicks, Queer Physicks, or Questing Physicks I thought it was wonderful and fascinating and beautiful. It gave insight to how the world of Fairyland works. Catherynne M. Valente does a fantastic job at world building. You can tell that she spent a whole lot of time thinking about the things she put into this book.
6. The Quirky Humor
The humor in this book is such that if you're not paying careful attention, you can easily miss it. Just a quick comment here or a word there were all it took to set me laughing. My favorite type of humor in these books though is the lists. For example, the list below:
"Common imports: rice, lodestones, rain, spare engines, unwanted children, spring maidens, heroes with something to prove, ghosts, and shadows. Common exports: magic, tea, coffee, and pomegranates."
The great thing about this is that it only gets funnier and funnier as you look at each item on the list and think about what it means that Fairyland is importing and exporting these things.
7. The Narrator
Just as in the first book, this book had a wonderful and charming narrator. I'll just give you a really quick example,
"I shall tell you, for we are becoming good friends, you and I, and friends may tell each other things."
8. The Tiny Details
You know, the things like that they squidholes instead of wormholes or that they went fishing for their rulers from Fairyland-Below.
9. Maud and Marquess Parallels
I found it beautiful and fascinating how many parallels there were between September's dialogue with the Marquess in the first book and her dialogue with Maud in this book. Because The Marquess wasn't being kind or genuine or friendly when she offered September things, but Maud was. Maud was everything the Marquess claimed to be that she had pushed down into the deepest part of her. And that was so interesting to read.
9. Aubergine
I love that dodos still exist in Fairyland and that they have their own island. Aubergine was especially adorable and stuff. I like that she wanted to be a physickist and that she stuck by September even when she didn't have to.

10. Fairytale Awareness
I love that these books are so wonderfully aware that they are fairytales. And they are more than just aware of it; they expound upon the whole idea of fairytales. The only other way to explain this is to give you an example of what I'm talking about.

"She knew very well what became of Princesses, as Princesses often get books written about them. Either terrible things happened to them, such as kidnappings and curses and pricking fingers and getting poisoned and locked up in towers, or else they just waited around till the Prince finished his story and got around to marrying her. Either way, September wanted nothing to do with Princessing."
"For though, as we have said, all children are heartless, this is not precisely true of teenagers. Teenage hearts are raw and new, fast and fierce, and they do not know their own strength. Neither do they know reason or restraint, and if you want to know the truth, a goodly number of grown-up hearts never learn it."
"For having a heart leads to the peculiar griefs of the grown."
"Most folk have three faces--the face they get when they're children, the face they own when they're grown, and the face they've earned when they're old...You get the face you build your whole life, with work and loving and grieving and laughing and frowning."
"Hearts set about finding other hearts the moment they are born, and between them, they weave nets so frightfully strong and tight that you end up bound forever in hopeless knots, even to the shadow of a beast you knew and loved long ago."
"Shadows are where magic comes from. Your dark and dancing self, slipping behind and ahead and around, never quite looking at the sun...The body does the living; the shadow does the dreaming."
"She did not know that sometimes people keep parts of themselves hidden and secret, sometimes wicked and unkind parts, but often brave or wild or colorful parts, cunning or powerful or even marvelous, beautiful parts, just locked up away at the bottom of their hearts. They do this because they are afraid of the world and of being stared at, or relied upon to do feats of bravery or boldness."
"Hearts are idiots. They're big and squishy and full of daft dreams. They flounce off to write poetry and moon at folk who aren't worth the mooning. Bones are the ones that have to make the journey, fight the monster, kneel before whomever is big on kneeling these days. Bones do the work for the heart's grand plans. Bones know what you need. Hearts only know what you want."
"It is so soon for you to lose your friends to good work and strange loves and high ambitions. The sadness of that is too grown-up for you. Like whiskey and voting, it is a dangerous and heady business, as heavy as years. If I could keep your little tribe together forever, I would. I do so want to be generous. But some stories sprout bright vines that tendril off beyond our sight, carrying the folk we love best with them, and if I knew how to accept that with grace, I would share the secret."
"First Law of Heroics....Someone has to tell you it's impossible, or the Quest can't go on."
"A book is a door, you know. Always and forever. A book is a door into another place and another heart and another world."
"September suspected that destinies, which is how she thought of professions, simply landed upon you like a crown, and ever after no one questioned or fretted over it, being sure of one's own use in the world. It was only that somehow her crown had not yet appeared. She did hope it would hurry up."
"Patience is always the last ingredient in any spell, the last part in any machine..."
"For there are two kinds of forgiveness in the world: the one you practice because everything really is all right, and what went before is mended. The other kind of forgiveness you practice because someone needs desperately to be forgiven, or because you need just as badly to forgive them..."
"If she was to fight, the hard, strange, new part of her meant to win."

No comments:

Post a Comment