Did I like it? Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes!
I read it while camping miles from nowhere, high in the mountains at a place called Nevertouch Lake. For one week we were the only people there. Each morning I woke to an orchestra of bird song. Late into the evening we watched stars so bright they hung like Christmas lights in the sky. Loons serenaded us throughout the day. A lone eagle provided a daily aerobatic display. Small rodents and deer paraded through our campground. Thankfully we saw no bears, not even a trace of them. We fished and ate trout right out of the lake. A fire had ravaged the land about eight years previously, but the earth rejoiced in the birth of so many new plants, especially high mountain wild flowers. The land exuded enchantment.
I can't imagine reading this book in a more suitable setting. I was enthralled by the magic of Valente's world in the same way that I was enthralled by the magic of the land around me.
So many quotable quotes.....
"It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else."
“I'm not lost, because I haven't any idea where to go that I might get lost on the way to. I'd like to get lost, because then I'd know where I was going, you see.”
"Autumn has a hungry heart - September is the beginning of death"
"Just remember that Autumn is called fall, and some falling places are so deep there's no climbing out. Autumn is the very soul of metamorphosis, a time when the world is poised at the door of winter which is the door of death - but has not yet fallen."
I admit to being distracted by my environment, but one cloudy morning I "stumbled" into the arms of the book and couldn't stop til it was done.
It is the story of September, a young girl, who leaves Omaha, Nebraska, by climbing onto a leopard's back with Green Wind to a journey into Fairyland. Therein she befriends A-Through-L, affectionately known as El, a wyverary, (a wyvern and library hybrid) and Saturday, a marid, and has many adventures.
The Marquess, the evil ruler of Fairlyland, is a finely drawn villein. You can't help but feel sympathy for her by the end.
The illustrations by Ana Juan perfectly compliment the text. (watch the book trailer below to see what I mean)
This book has been reviewed in other places as being part Alice in Wonderland and part Wizard of Oz. It is true that it brings these other books to mind, but for me, I made more connections to Terry Pratchett's work than these two. (I was pleased to read in the end notes that he has been an influence in her work)
It is exquisitely wordy and delightfully pretentious.
It wants a precocious child reader. I'll feed it to readers who are fans of Terry Pratchett, Philip Reeves, Rachel Hartman, Tamora Pierce and anyone else I can think of before September (the month) rolls around again.
It is definitely a fairytale adults will relish. It will make a marvelous read aloud.
These words from Valente resonated deeply with me. "Everyone to greater or lesser extents, is faking adulthood, bumbling through as best they can, imitating the adults they grew up with and the also-faking-it adults around them, going through huge shifts in life and perception every few years."
This faking-it-adult is now going in search of the rest of Valente's work.