If The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making was about the perils of childhood, then “The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There” is absolutely about the perils of growing up.
A year after her previous adventures, September finally makes her way back to Fairyland. A year later means a year older, though- she’s begun to grow a heart. Things aren’t quite as easy this time around, because this time she really feels it.
September finds herself in Fairyland-below, the dark, shadowy reflection of the realm she visited previously. In this case, it is literally shadowy; September’s shadow, cast away in the first novel, has set herself up as a queen and is gathering up shadows from Fairyland-above. This might not be so very bad if the shadows didn’t bring with them the magic of Fairyland itself.
One can understand the shadows’ interest in autonomy- both the Shadow-Wyverary and Shadow-Saturday make excellent cases for it. After all, who would want to be dragged around behind their physical selves, with absolutely no control over what one says, does, or eats? With her new-found heart, September finds more sympathy within herself then she might have a year ago. The same sympathy, however, leads to a crisis of conscience; it’s better for all of Fairyland if the shadows go back where they belong, but can she bring herself to condemn her shadow friends to such an unhappy existence?
Like always, Valente’s writing is both fanciful and evocative, her talent for bringing a scene to life is second to none. The tone is darker, and there is less whimsy, but as much depth and loveliness as in “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland.” I do have to admit that I wasn’t thrilled by the end. The last chapter or so seemed rushed, and I wasn’t overly fond of the way that the plot wrapped up. It may simply be that, like anyone who spends time in Fairyland, I wasn’t ready for it to end.
View all my reviews on Goodreads