Review: “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” by Catherynne M. Valente

Oh, how I adored this book. It’s the type of fantasy for young readers that I sometimes feel has disappeared from the world in a wave of dystopian love triangles and lusty fae and action-adventure stories, not that there’s anything wrong with those if that’s what you love! But “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland” has the truly magical quality I have been really missing in fantasy books lately. It’s like Neil Gaiman or even Roald Dahl or the Phantom Tollbooth–a profoundly strange little book that takes its strangeness at face value, that accepts that for children the world is fundamentally different, more magical and less logical than it is for adults.

I wish I had read this book as a child myself, but it still resonated with me as an adult reader. It surprised me that it was published so recently, in fact, in 2011, because it feels like much more classic children’s fantasy. However, it also resonates with the readers of those classics, with a twist that examines what it feels like to love fairyland, even when it feels like your beloved stories might not have space for you anymore.

I picked this up from the library, but I will be ordering a copy for myself and more for the young readers in my life. A truly magical story.


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