A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{February 27, 2010}   The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

This is another online book, similar to Shadow Unit but also very different both in format and tone. Whereas Shadow Unit is a fake TV show, The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making (you’ve got to love that title) is a fictional fairytale or a children’s book in the tradition of Alice in Wonderland. I call it fictional because it originates from the world of one of Valente’s novels. In it, the characters make reference a story from their childhood about a girl who is spirited off to fairyland. Valente was frequently asked whether this story actually existed and that’s what inspired her to write this online book.

It is the story of September, an “ill-tempered” young girl who is carried off on leopard back by a strange man in green. She is brought to fairyland where she meets many interesting characters and makes some good friends, including a Wyverary (half Wyvern, half library) and a Marid (a blue water spirit) named Saturday. There is no way to easily sum up her strange adventures but each is more imaginative and delightful than the last. Just reading the chapter descriptions is a pleasure. As the title suggests, September is a clever girl who makes it through the world thanks to her own wit and courage. Her, at times, naive logic is absolutely charming.

Valente had been releasing the novel one chapter at a time. And though I have not finished reading it, the story now seems to be complete in 22 chapters (each chapter is also available as an audio file). You can read it here.


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