Imagine Wonderland, full of all the creepy, twisted magic we all know and love. Now think of it turned sideways, backwards, and upside down all at once. That’s the best way I can think to describe this book. While it might looks like just a simple Middle Grade fantasy on the outside, the inside is complete and utterly complicated nonsense. I should’ve guessed from the ridiculously long title, but never suspected, leading to an unexpected and unforgettable journey!
Catherynne M. Valente takes the reader on an unimaginable journey through Fairyland, the most strange and complicated place you’re likely to encounter in the Middle Grade genre. It’s a place where everything is immensely different for all we know of this world. So you can imagine the shock that comes upon September when a little green man riding a leopard drops her into this strange, new environment. She feels lost and alone, but manages to make some friends along the way.
My favorite part of the whole story were the characters. They weren’t flat, unoriginal cardboard cut-outs like we see all too frequently in books for young readers. They were 3-dimensional; so much so that they felt like they could literally jump off the page. They were as realistic as you would think a fairy tale character to be. I especially enjoyed and the vile Marquess, and A through L, the Wyverary.
One thing I definitely wish had been different is that it had been marketed as YA, with September being several years old. Not that I didn’t love September, but she already seemed mature beyond her years, and then there wouldn’t be 8 year olds struggling through and almost giving up due to it’s complexity. I couldn’t even understand what was happening half the time! And if it had been marketed as YA, the little traces of romance that were present could’ve been expanded upon as well, and I know that’s something I would’ve enjoyed.
Nevertheless, this was a wholly enjoyable read that I found surprising, but still with a warm familiarity to it that will welcome readers in.