The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There - Ana Juan, Catherynne M. Valente *Actual rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars*

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There is the second book in the Fairyland Series. I'd been looking forward to returning to Fairyland with September and reuniting with A-through-L the wyverary and Saturday the Marid to name a few. The idea that the story would take place in 'Fairyland-Below' or beneath Fairyland was especially appealing to me, since it sounds darker and more mysterious. I also knew the story would revolve around how September lost her shadow in book one and what that would entail for her and the fate of Fairyland. I looked forward to the gorgeous prose and adventures that Catherynne M. Valente had in store for us this time. My expectations may have been set slightly too high going in though, because as much as I enjoyed this new adventure, it didn't quite live up to it's predecessor for me.

So the story picks up a year after the events of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making but a lot of things have changed for our lovable protagonist September. It's not just her adventure in Fairyland and the subsequent loss of her shadow that are to blame though. This time around, September is 13 years old and a proper teenager; so she's done some growing up in the past year. Of course, it isn't long before she finds herself back in Fairyland and upon her return, she finds that she isn't the only one that's done some changing in the past year. Fairyland itself is losing it's magic - and it's inhabitants are losing their shadows! It seems that Fairyland-Below has a new ruler: September's own shadow, now known as Halloween, the Hollow Queen, and she's the one responsible for the missing shadows and lack of magic in the world above. Considering Halloween's connection to September herself, it's not surprising that our little heroine feels responsible for at least trying to put things right again.

True to form, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland is beautifully written and filled with wonderful morals and life lessons. It's charming, funny and it tugs at your heartstrings plenty of times along the way. I cannot praise Catherynne M. Valente enough for reimagining fairytales in such a fresh and relevant way. I also thought it was really exciting to explore Fairyland-Below and all of it's inhabitants. As you can imagine, there was a wide array of quirky characters to get to know! The coolest thing though had to be getting acquainted with the shadow selves of beloved Fairyland characters. Not just September's own shadow self but A-through-L's and Saturday's too! Seeing the differences and similarities between the actual characters and their shadows was definitely a highlight.

For whatever reason though, the plot seemed to move slower this time around. It's like nothing significant happened for at least the first half of the story. September didn't really have a plan going in, so I guess it's to be expected but it just sort of dragged a bit there at first. I'd mentioned in my review for the first book that this is the type of story that can't be rushed, well the same holds true for the sequel and the combination of the two just made it seem even slower this time around. And I mean you guys know I read my fair share of high-fantasies brimming with extensive descriptions and world-building, so it's not like I don't read slower paced books. Without much world-building needed and since we were familiar with the world, I just expected things to get going quicker than they did and since they didn't, I just didn't feel as absorbed in the story as I had for my first trip to Fairyland.

The other thing that was a bit of a bummer was specifically due to the fact that The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland dealt with the shadow selves of our beloved characters. And I hear you thinking: didn't you say the shadows were one of your favorite parts of this book? I did indeed say that. BUT: exploring Fairyland Below and the shadows that inhabited it meant that the real characters like A-through-L and Saturday were largely absent from this story. Despite exploring new grounds, I had still been looking forward to September reuniting with her friends, so their absence was something of a letdown.

All things considered, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There was still a solid addition to the series, but in my case it was simply a case of my expectations not matching up with the story that was being told. Once the plot picked up around mid-way (which is quite quick since the page count for these is fairly low), I was once again fully immersed in September's adventure! I still don't think the sequel quite lives up to the first book though, but it was still an engaging and worthwhile read. I'll definitely be going on with the series and I'm hoping next time all the secondary characters return full-swing!

This review was previously featured on my blog: Photobucket