I have not encountered a YA fantasy novel this good since I read the classic tales as a child. Those being the The Chronicles of Narnia,The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Watership Down, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Phantom Tollbooth and Charlotte's Web to name a few. That's pretty much most of them with the exception of say The Story of Doctor Dolittle, The Jungle Book or Stuart Little for instance but this story has little similarity to those. No instead this is a book that stands on its own as fresh, magical and entirely riveting. It is one of those novels that had I read it as a child (a feat astronomically and chronologically impossible) I would have loved and yet can read it now and equally love it. This is what you call a great and enchanting novel full of polished writing and sparkling wit.
This is the story of September, a girl caught between possessing and lacking a heart, who is whisked away by the Green Wind to Fairyland. Once in Fairyland she meets a host of unique characters such as: the Wyvervary (a mix between a library and a Wyvern - don't ask it only makes sense in the book's logic); the future-telling witches and their husband; the Panther of Rough Storms; and the villainous Marquess. The plot itself is spread out in such a way that while reading you may find yourself caught up in the little details while still finding that the overall story is not making a great amount of sense. However everything winds up neatly right at the end and with a unique conclusion that fits the story like a key.
I found the witty writing captivating and also highly poetic. Catherynne Valente wrote in a way that did not distract, but rather added to the story and drove it along. She even somewhat broke the fourth wall on occasion! If I had to compare this writing with any recent novel I would say it is familiar to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell if it was sped up, the unnecessary detail removed and targeted at a younger audience. Which when I mention it causes me to realise it's not that familiar to the above novel
(I merely had to fulfil my quota of mentioning other books in this review to distract from this one)
If you're an adult, a child or a young adult (or some other category entirely) then I would recommend this book. You do like novels with sharks, talking furniture, talking animals and fairies right? If not please take the first exit on the right toward the non-fiction or literary fiction zones they'll be more to your liking (I hear they offer fancy words and cookies). But if you do like something with a bit of whimsy (and I assume you do considering you read to the end of this review - you did read
it right?) then go and get yourself a copy of this book. You won't regret it I promise you. And well if you hate the book I'm sorry, by eating the food of fairies you're stuck with the magical repercussions (in other words the book)!