The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
By: Catherynne M. Valente
All of the magic of the first two in a uniquely new story. I love that Valente consistently manages to add in interesting aspects to Fairyland, first by taking us to Fairyland-Below and now to the Moon.
I'm going to do this review like I did the other two of the series because it's the perfect system for the hodgepodge of wonderfulness that makes up this series.
Things I love:
Aww. I love watching her grow up. She's still barely a teenager in this one, but she has grown so much in these three books. She's learned about friendship and now about love. She's faced dictators and yetis and herself. She's the heroine that every fairy-tale deserves because she's brave and selfless (and even scared or confused sometimes). I think that every young girl should read about September. There's so much worth in her character.
I'M SO HAPPY TO HAVE A FULL STORY WITH REAL-HIM AGAIN. I missed him and Saturday in the second book. His friendship with September is one of the best parts of these books. He's so sweet and caring, but also nervous and excitable. I felt so bad for him in this book, though. He felt so bad about himself with the curse and whatnot.
Once again, SO HAPPY TO SEE HIM. I love the dynamic between him and September. He's so darn sweet, too. I love to see him get more confident with himself. He found a place for him on the moon and again with September. I also love his development with his future self. It was cool to see something mentioned about him in the first book being fleshed out.
And can we just talk about how adorable he is?
"We feel as though we know you because Saturday talks about you whenever he's not breathing, eating, or sleeping. And sometimes he'll make an exception for all three."
..."The contortionists call him Saturday-When-September-Comes-Back!"
"Until then, the only thing...the only thing I'd practiced so much was what I'd say to you, when I saw you again." The Marid hurried on. "Though in the end I am better at Dog-earing than remembering speeches, no matter how many times I've said them to myself."
4.The Chapter Headings
I still can't get over the chapter headings. I mean, they're fabulous. For example,
"In Which September Walks on the Moon, Is Accused of Sundry Wickednesses by a Lobster and Two Jackals, Hails a Crap, and Meets a Very Unusual Mollusk."
"In Which September Is Troubled by the Mechanics of Time and Fate, the Course of a Curse, the Unlikelihood of Visiting Pluto, and a Very Argumentative Donkey."
5. THE MOON WHELK!
The encounter with the Moon Whelk (Almanack) is probably my favorite Fairyland encounter ever. She was so awesome and kind and big.
6. The Narrator
As with the others, the omniscient narrator is incredibly well used in these books. The execution of it is absolutely perfect. Examples,
"We may be very grateful for this, as young girls who learn to drive upon the great plains are no more designed for wintry mountain roads than convertible automobiles for snow, and it is in our interest and September's that novels last longer than their beginnings."
"Take my hand, I know the way.Narrators have a professional obligation not to let their charges fall onto concrete."
"How I long to draw the curtain through this grotto, take September by the serious and stalwart shoulders and tell her the secret of growing up! But I cannot. It is against the rules. Even I am bound by some rules."
"Oh, but September, it isn't so. I ought to know, better than anyone. I have been objective and even-tempered until now, but I cannot let that stand, I simply cannot. Listen, y girl. Just this once I will whisper from far off, like a sigh, like a wind, like a little breeze. So it is written---but so, too, it is crossed out. You can write over it again. You can make notes in the margins. You can cut out the whole page. You can, and you must, edit and rewrite and reshape and pull out the wrong parts like bones and find just the thing and you can forever, forever, write more and more and more, thicker and longer and clearer. Living is a paragraph, constantly rewritten."
7. How the Other Books in the Series are Discussed Openly
The thing about September's journey through these books is that the books don't let you forget where she came from or where she started out. It shows you clear as day how far she's come. It lets you know the status of her heart, from a child's to a teenager's to someone growing up.
"We have said before that the world is a house. You and I have gone together into the basement where the underworlds are kept. We have lounged comfortably in the front room and shared our familiar tea with all things familiar: Omaha and Europe and cruel schoolmates and spy movies and airplane factories and amiable dogs. We have played such wonderful games in the upstairs bedroom, where Wyveraries and Marids and witches and giant talking cats peek out from behind the bedpost and the Lamp is always on."
8. Important Themes
Like what it really means to grow up. It doesn't mean being unexcited and solemn and bored, or at least, it doesn't have to. September learns so much about so much throughout Fairyland. It's always great seeing her take a lesson from Fairyland into the real world; it makes you feel that you could do the same.
9. The Gorgeous Writing
If I could choose to write like anyone, I would choose Catherynne M. Valente.
I love that there are long passages, spanning whole pages, that take your breath away. Then there are short little phrases that hit home. For example, "Family is a transitive property."
10. Candlestick the Buraq
I LOVED LOVED LOVED HER. She pretty much summed up my thoughts on a couple things within her first moments meeting September and the gang.
11. The Library Battle Between Fiction and Non-Fiction
The battle in the library between fiction and non-fiction was, quite literally, genius. It was such a quirky little detail, but a fantastic one.
12. The Country of Photography
That chapter was such a cool concept to see play out. I really love photography, so thinking it about it in that way was truly fascinating. And if anyone could pull it off it would definitely be these books.
"Seeing is magic. When you look at something you change it, just by looking. It's not an apple anymore, it's an apple your friend Turing saw and thought about and finally ate. And it's worse than that---anything you look at changes you, too. A camera takes a picture---but the photographer can't escape the picture."
13. Why the Fairies Left
This has been a topic brought up time and time and time again in this series. I love that we finally got an answer as to why the fairies left and where they went. But more than that, I loved the answer that was given. It was so much more interesting than anything I would have guessed.
14. Quirk Factor
The fact that this story can have orange fizzes made out of sunshine and a pregnant moon and yetis that control time and still remain weirdly un-weird. These things just make it more charming than anything.
"Her face was turning into the face it would be when she was grown. But she couldn't see it, for no one can see themselves change until they have already done it, and then suddenly they cannot remember ever having been different at all."
"Instead of fretting over a day here or there, she would prepare. The place that fear took up in her heart she would fill with provisions and readiness. She was a seasoned adventuress now, after all."
"When you wear all your insides on your outside, people look at you very strangely. No one had ever told her that exulting and dancing and singing nonsense were childish things, but she felt sure that they were, some how.
Shall I tell her? Shall I be a kind and merciful narrator and take our girl aside? Shall I touch her new, red heart and make her understand that she is no longer one of the tribe of heartless children, nor even the owner of the wild and infant heart of thirteen-year-old girls and boys? Oh, September! Hearts, once you have them locked up in your chest, are a fantastic heap of tender and terrible wonders---but they must be trained....A heart can learn ever so many tricks, and what sort of beast it becomes depends greatly upon whether it has been taught to sit up or to lie down, to speak or to beg, to roll over or to sound alarms, to guard or to attack, to find or to stay. But the trick most folk are so awfully fond of learning, the absolute second they've got hold of a heart, is to pretend they don't have one at all. It is the very first danger of the hearted."
"Music has more rules than math or magic and it's twice as dangerous as both or either."
"All money is imaginary...Money is magic everyone agrees to pretend is not magic. Observe! You treat it like magic, wield it like magic, fear it like magic! Why should a body with more small circles of copper or silver or gold than anyone else have an easy life full of treats every day and sleeping in and other people bowing down? The little circles can't get up and fight a battle or make a supper so splendid you get full just by looking at it or build a house of a thousand gables. They can do those things because everyone agrees to give them power."
"That's your first hint that something's alive. It says no. That's how you know a baby is starting to turn into a person. They run around saying no all day, throwing their aliveness at everything to see what it'll stick to. You can't say no if you don't have desires and opinions and wants of your own You wouldn't even want to. No is the heart of thinking."
"The best way to be the kind of girl you want to be is to do what that girl would do."
"At the bottom of philosophy something very true and very desperate whispers: Everyone is hungry all the time. Everyone is starving. Everyone wants so much, more than they can stomach, but the appetite doesn't converse much with the stomach. Everyone is hungry and not only for food--for comfort and love and excitement and the opposite of being alone. Almost everything awful anyone does it to get those things and keep them...But no one can use you up unless you let them."
"The whole point of growing is to get big enough to hold the world you want inside you."
"Have you done a long, hard thing for the sake of someone you loved, so long and so hard that your body shook with the difficulty of it, that you were thirsty and aching and ravenous by the time it was done, but it did not matter, you did not even feel the thirst or the pain or the hunger, because you were doing what was Necessary?"
"Oh, September! It is such hard work to keep your heart hidden! And worse, by the time you find it easy, it will be harder still to show it. It is a terrible magic in this world to ask for exactly the thing you want. Not least because to know exactly the thing you want and look it in the eye is a long, long labor."
"A silent Library is a sad Library...A Library should be full of exclamations! Shouts of delight and horror as the wonders of the world are discovered or the lies of the heavens uncovered or the wind adventures of devil-knows-who sent romping out on the pages. It should positively vibrate with laughing at comedies and sobbing at tragedies...A Library should not shush; it should roar."
"It was also important to announce your intentions at top volume, she thought, or your intentions will think you are ashamed of them."
"September's heart puffed up like a kernel of corn, awfully full of excitement and memory and the peculiar jangly, jittery sort of contentment that comes when you suddenly get what you've wanted for so long that you forgot what it was like to think about anything but wanting it."
"Practice seemed like a very alive thing to me. I thought often of how much I would like to practice something like that, to shape it bit by bit, every day, to be so good at moving and seeming that I could change just a tiny turn of my toe and have it become something new...Because you would take that with you, you know?...You couldn't help it, if you'd practiced enough. Your body would remember, like how a piano player drums her fingers on her leg in the pattern of her favorite song without even noticing. You'd take it with you into everyday doing and walking and singing and reading in the Library and dreaming and sleeping. Every time you moved or seemed it would mean something..."
"Many years later, folk whose names you and I studied in school went up to the roof of our world and looked down. Perhaps they could name that feeling for her. It's something like suddenly stepping out of your own skin and seeing yourself from the outside, seeing the body you live in the way it looks to the stars and the sun and the sky and everyone who knows you, without mirrors or photographs or reflections in shop windows. You look at that silly old place you've been walking around in and forgetting to brush your teeth or braid your hair neatly and it is nothing like you thought, but somehow, someway, better than you ever hoped it could be."
"You know what a fate looks like, don't you? It's just a toy version of yourself, made out of alabaster and emerald and a little bit of lapis lazuli and ambition and coincidence and regret and everyone else's expectations and laziness and hope and where you're born and who to and everything you're afraid of plus everything that's afraid of you."
"It's when you're dead set on your path that you most need a pilgrimage."
"What others call you, you become. It's a terrible magic that everyone can do---so do it. Call yourself what you wish to become."