What's the book about?
This is in principle a children's book. But just as Harry Potter started that way and yet touched so many "grown-up" subjects, so does the first book of the Fairyland series. We have a girl, who longs for adventure and right from the beginning she will be taken to a magical world. It will make you think a bit of Alice in Wonderland or The Never ending Story. But I think that any book that has a child as main character and then transport us to a magical fairy world will do that. But Valente does a lovely work setting this character apart, as a true heroine. The companions are lovely and full of wonder.
What was different of this book?
Let's begin with the fact that this book started as series of web stories. Every chapter stands on its own in such a beautiful way. But what got me was the characters. We will get to the main character, September, in a second, but all of the characters that made Fairyland full of wonder and amazement bring you tiny bits of wisdom about real life.
Splendid things are frightening. Sometimes, it's the fright that makes them splendid at all
My favorite character besides September? It has to be the Wyvern (picture a dragon like creature) except that this one is also half a library and know everything there is to know from A-to-L. He is an adorable, love giving, smart and sweet companion for or lovely September. He teaches September that odd as your family might be or look, the important thing is that you know that you are loved!
What about the main character?
September is a lonely child living in Nebraska. Her dad left to war and her mom works hard to make ends meet. So, just like a lot of us did, September reads and wishes something wonderful will happen to her. And it does. She goes to Fairyland and learns about herself on the way. She gets stronger, she shows how noble she is and how much she can love. She is a perfect heroine. She is afraid and she doubts herself at times, but she learns from it and thrives.
The 10% moment
At page 4 the book got me. Let me show you how:
All children are heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb tall trees and say shocking things and leap so very high that grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weight quite a lot. That's why it takes so long to grow one. [...] It is well known that reading quickens the growth of the heart like nothing else [...]
I loved the book. It goes directly to the list of books that I want to one day read to my kids, next to The Hobbit and Harry Potter (just to name some). I can't wait to read the sequel The girl who fell beneath Fairyland and led the revels there.