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September, terribly bored of her mundane life in Omaha, is delighted when she's visited by the Green Wind and the Leopard of Little Breezes, who spirit her away to Fairyland. There, she takes on a quest for a witch to take her magical spoon back from the terrible Marquess, ruler of Fairyland. She gains great friends and allies in A-Through-L, a half-wyvern half-library crossbreed, a blue Marid named Saturday, and many other residents of the land, both friendly and dangerous.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a children's and young adult fantasy novel by Catherynne M Valente, with illustrations by Ana Juan. It was originally published for free online, but was finally put onto paper in May 2011. It deals with the adventures a young girl called September has in Fairyland. That Sounds Familiar, but the book provides a broad knowledge on folklore, and reads like a love letter to those odd Victorian classics with a twist of sardonic humor to them (such as Alice in Wonderland). Four sequels (The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, and The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home) have been published. A prequel, The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland—For a Little While, tells the story of the young girl who became Fairyland's evil Marquess (and is full of spoilers for the first book, so be careful).
This book contains examples of:
- All Just a Dream: Averted. Everything that happened to September in Fairyland really did happen, although many characters say it feels like having been in a dream in the end. But September still knows it all really happened when she returns.
- Creepy Child: The Marquess, who has no problems killing and threatening others and is physically twelve.
- Dark and Troubled Past: The Marquess's Backstory is awfully sad and touching. In her life in the human world, her mother died when she was eight and she was abused by her alcoholic father. Then she stumbled into Fairyland, lived there for many years, fell in love and became a queen, and not by marriage, and became pregnant. And then she was snatched back into her dull world, all the ones she loved and who loved her in Fairyland gone, stuck with her abusive father and in a twelve year old's body, no husband, no child, nothing. Doesn't really surprise one that she became so bitter and full of hatred for Fairyland, first giving her so much love, and then taking it away again.
- Food Chains: September is warned not to eat any of the food in Fairyland, or else she risks becoming like Persephone. She fails to properly heed this warning, but it ends up working out for the best.
- Heroic Sacrifice: September sacrifices her shadow to save a Pooka girl's life.
- I Know Your True Name: Knowing someone's true name gives you power over that person. September wasn't suppose to tell anyone her true name, though she never lied about her name when in Fairyland, until she finds out that the true name is actually a person's full name, which in her case would be September Morning Bell. She also finds out the Marquess's true name.
- Interspecies Romance: The Good Queen Mallow (human) and Mr. Map (who has wolf ears), September (human) and Saturday (a Marid), and Ell's parents (as he is supposedly a Wyvern/library hybrid).
- Kaleidoscope Hair: The Marquess uses magic to change her hair color at will.
- Twist Ending: And a really good one. It turns out that the Marquess wants September to lock the portal which connects the human world to Fairyland, supposely so that no child can get lost again. To pursuade September, she shows her a watch with September's name on it, which determines the time she stays in Fairyland. Then it turns out that it's the Marquess's watch, whose true name is Maud Elizabeth Smythe, and that it's she who doesn't want to return or let any other child come. Then she reveals her backstory, which is really interesting and touching.
- Youkai: Fairyland residents include Tanuki, as well as tsukumogami, who have their own island.