The Mysterious Bookshop

Valente, Catherynne M., The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

Gr 5–8—Leaving her native Nebraska once more, September returns to Fairyland after a year's absence to find it in tumult. Her shadow, Halloween, lost in Fairyland Below during September's last visit, is amassing shadows, stealing their magic away from Fairyland Above. Halloween's agent, the Alleyman, strikes fear into every heart as he ruthlessly separates shadows from fairies. Resolving to correct the imbalance, September soon discovers that shadows are tricksome opposites to their corporeal counterparts and she undertakes a quest to reestablish the balance of magic. This sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Feiwel & Friends, 2011) is a darker book, full of grief, loss, and the adult realization that even in Fairyland, time does not stand still. September's efforts to undo Halloween's havoc have an uneasy, regretful feeling as she travels in strange, unfriendly lands without the beloved companions that joyfully inhabited her first adventure. The pacing seems even slower without the cheery allusions to children's literature from the first novel, but Valente has not lost the whimsical phrasing that fills her Fairyland with its magical wonder. She possesses that Rowling trick of hiding important details within myriad interesting but as yet heretofore insignificant ephemera that ties up loose ends and creates a tidy resolution. September's steps into maturity and compassion, as well as her new friends and experiences, are memorable, but readers will miss the youthful exuberance that characterized her first visit to Fairyland.