The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland Catherynne M. Valente Book Review

Middle grade: BEST DISCOVERY EVER. Look, you guys are fricken missing out if you don’t read middle grade books. For serious. I just read The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led The Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente this weekend and was completely taken with the story. Do you guys remember being kids and believing that anything was possible? I’ll admit I am a little jaded with old age. However, Valente’s latest brings back some of the magic of youth in the best possible way.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland Catherynne M Valente Book Cover

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led The Revels There picks up a year after The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making left off. September is a year older, a teenager, with the beginnings of a heart. She has not been to fairyland in over a year. Yet, she finds herself longing for fairyland with all of her heart. She finds that she has changed and ordinary life just is not enough anymore. September finally gets her chance, but finds fairyland to be very different since she was there last. The inhabitants are losing their shadows and live in fear of the alleyman. It is up to September to travel into Fairyland-Below and save Fairyland. There, she will see old friends again, but can she trust them?

Oh, friends, I love when characters grow from one book to another. September is absolutely not a stagnant character. You see the first book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland posits that children do not have hearts, so it’s possible for them to be self-centered. In The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland, September has a heart. She’s a little more soft and vulnerable, but this is not exactly a weakness. We just see how she cares for characters beyond herself. She is still brave and resourceful, it’s just she is more mature in this book. I love that. We really get to see how creative September’s mind is, how she comes up with various solutions in her quest to save Fairyland. She’s a bit more assertive too.

For me, personally, I felt as though there was a melancholy, darker mood to The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland than there was in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland. I felt a little bit more deeply this time around. Certain characters are missing from this book, at least missing in that they aren’t exactly themselves. The vast majority of the book takes place in Fairyland-Below which is a dark place. There’s no light down there, and well, it’s a little more dangerous than Fairyland-Above. The stakes are higher this time. AND okay, I need to put this out there, but I totally did a little silent cry at the end of this being super emotional and all, because like I said, it’s melancholy and you’ll find yourself making certain attachments. I mean, I liked how it played out, I just was a bit sad. And friends, that is not a bad thing at all.

The entire time reading The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led The Revels There, I found myself in awe of Catherynne M. Valente’s imagination. She paints these fabulous pictures with imagery and I found myself completely immersed in Valente’s Fairyland-Below. I loved the idea of coffee and tea royalists. I loved the idea of the Sea Of Forgetting. I loved it all, friends, and how different it was. I guess the best comparison I can make for the world is that it is kind of similar to that of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. 

I love it when a book brings magic and whimsy and maybe just a touch of darkness to my day. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led The Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente introduces new characters, brings back old ones and manages to be a rather unique story attesting to the quality of middle grade fantasy literature coming out. Yet, there’s also, perhaps, a tip of the hat to the classics, and I love that. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and it’s predecessor to anyone with an imagination and a love for words.

Disclosure: Received For Review

Other reviews of The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led The Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente:

The Book Rat – “Valente is still the Queen of Nonsense, and I still mean that in the best of all possible ways.

The Readventurer – “beautifully written, deeply profound, and intelligent.

WORD For Teens – “But it missed some sparkle.”

Books By Catherynne M. Valente:

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. SIGH. I LOVED The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland and am so excited to read this sequel. Well, let me say that I was already stoked about it and your review just made me double excited. I can’t wait to see what kinds of magic is in store for me!
    And truth: I often find that middle grades are the books that blow me away the most with their imagination and cut-me-to-the-bone FEELINGS. I can’t wait to get this one in my hot little hands!

  2. I do like Cathrynne Valente’s middle-grade books an awful lot! I wish I’d had them when I was a little kid — little me would have loved them even more.

    • Jenny, I am with you. When I was a kid I loved The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, but I think I would have loved this one more because there’s a female at the helm as main character. Sigh.

  3. I have this waiting for me at the library right now and I cannot WAIT to read it! I’ve seen people mention it’s darker too and I’m curious to read the change of tone for myself. I adored the first one so I think I’ll like this one too. Love this review, April!

  4. While I totally agree with you that MG books can be a total gem, I have never felt a pull to these books (the Girl who…books), I don’t know why.

    I’m glad so many people enjoy them though.

  5. I really enjoyed a middle grade book recently for the same reason – it made me feel like a kid again. I really want to read this series; I’ve heard nothing but good things.

  6. OMG, I am so with you on the whole middle grade train. I didn’t really start reading it til this year, but all the ones I’ve read have been so good! I think maybe it’s because I’m better about gravitating to ones that will work for me, whereas with YA I’m just all ‘OMG PRETTY COVE MUST HAVE’

  7. Confession: I haven’t yet read the first one but I totally am on the train to read this one because it sounds so bloody amazing! And your review just further convinced me!

  8. Jasmine Rose says

    Omfg. The Phantom Tollbooth? I already wanted to read this, but now you have me wanting to get on B&N RIGHT NOW and order it. Because TPT? Basically my favorite book of all time as well as the book that shaped my love for reading.


  1. […] Remember that one time I totally silently sobbed during the ending of THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH FAIRYLAND AND LED THE REVELS THERE by Catherynne M. Valente? […]

  2. […] Reviews: Good Books and Good Wine, The Guilded Earlobe, The Little Red Reviewer and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine. Have you […]

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