by Catherynne M. Valente
A young girl named September is carried off to fairyland, where she quickly makes it her quest to save the magical land from its tyrannical ruler.
I wish I had written this book. It’s wonderful. The Girl is the kind of tale that is imaginative and silly enough to please a young audience while at the same time providing a sly, deeper commentary to please a much older crowd.
Don’t be put off by the stiff style of the opening chapter. It has that unrealistic, other-worldly Alice in Wonderland quality to it. Broad statements are made about the nature of children and stories, and the characters are so larger than life that, in the beginning, they don’t have much humanity. But this quickly evolves, as September travels through fairyland, forging her own way with a force of character that Alice never had.
The Girl is filled with creatures both familiar to fairy tale readers, such as fairies and witches, and totally unique, such as the living herd of migrating bicycles and a golem made entirely of soap. It’s heart-breaking, beautiful, and true to fairy tale form, full of peril, hints of dark cruelty, and battles against evil. Quite simply, it’s great fun.
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