It’s been a year since we left September, a year after our magical adventure with her, and the time has been spent, on September’s side, eagerly counting the days until she might return. She’s determined to have a proper adventure this time, with magic and whimsical delights, and is looking forward to not having a quest to complete.
She hardly thinks about her shadow, which she left behind in Fairyland.
September’s rather abrupt and unconventional re-entry into Fairyland shocks her. She quickly learns that a few years have passed for the denizens of Fairyland, and that her shadow – calling herself Halloween – now rules Fairyland-Below. Halloween steals shadows from the creature of Fairyland-Above, and thus deprives them of their magic. September knows she has to embark on another quest, this time to reclaim her shadow and undo the wrong she did the last time she visited Fairyland.
This book is about growing up. September has learnt a few hard lessons, and how she’s growing a heart, which is complicating things for her. She understands that her actions have consequences, and she’s strong enough to realise she’s got to set things right again. This time around, September is more empathetic and understanding that she was previously, and we see a lot of maturity from her.
The Fairyland we got to know in the previous book with enchantment and wonder has changed. It is now darker and more dangerous, and slightly creepy. There is a tangible difference in the world-building of this book, compared to the last, but it is no less captivating. September’s companions in this book are not her wyverary and her Marid, but their shadows. Their shadows are less inhibited, wilder, and less familiar to September than their ‘real’ counterparts, and September struggles with the idea that they are the same and yet different. She doesn’t know whether to trust them or not and struggles with the internal conflict for a while.
One of the most heartbreaking scenes (and there are many) is when A-Through-L tries to recreate some scenes from the last book so he can have memories for himself.
There’s also a new addition to their gang: Aubergine the Night Dodo, who practises a branch of magic called Quiet Magic. She is adopted by September and is initially very shy and quiet, but she grows into herself as the book progresses.
This lyrical children’s book explores some very grown up issues in a veiled manner. There’s the issue of consent, both with Saturday stealing her First Kiss from her and A-Through-L the Wyverary turning her into a wyverary through magic. There’s the concept of consequences, which became a big theme as the story unwound. Also explored are forgiveness, the nature of memories, and war, both internal or external. I think a large part of my enjoyment of these books comes from seeing how skilfully the author brings up these subjects and weaves them into the narrative.
Again, the illustrations by Ana Juan gloriously bring the story to life. They are gorgeous and incredibly detailed. I could stare at them all day. Here are two examples so you can see for yourself:
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There is a wonderful sequel, one I have thoroughly enjoyed. It lacks none of the magic and wonder of the first book, instead building upon it to create something even more wonderful. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, titled The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
It’s been a year since we left September, a year after our magical adventure with her, and the time has been spent, on September’s side, eagerly counting the days until she might return.