A peculiar and whimsical story hiding within the frames of a traditional fairy-tale and an outrageous fantasy universe. It is filled with wonder and magic; witches, purring leopards, purpose-seeking keys, loyal creatures made out of soap and a dragon with literary roots, all soaked in Valente's beautiful prose and lyrical writing. Nothing makes sense - everything is nonsense, and yet it is the truest book I've ever read.
“All stories must end so, with the next tale winking out of the corners of the last pages, promising more, promising moonlight and dancing and revels, if only you will come back when spring comes again.
September is a charming, courageous and quirky main character - but of course it was the lovely Wyverary who won my heart in the end. A-through-L is half dragon and half library - with an intense knowledge of everything from A to L. A library-loving dragon in love with alphabetizing - I couldn't have asked for more.
Valente's writing is gorgeous - she draws you in with her picturesque and nostalgic descriptions, she stuns you with her vivid imagination of childhood wonders, and she lets you drown in insightful explanations and comparisons. I was at once reminded of Lewis Carroll, Neil Gaiman and C.S. Lewis - some of my favorite writers.
Fairyland allowed me to think of talking and living furniture, to imagine flying leopards and wish-granting marids, to speculate of wishes and heartlessness, and it took me on a journey through moonlit valleys of twinkling stars, heartfelt dreams and long-lost fantasies. It filled me with longing, with hope and with bittersweet nostalgia.
I loved it.
“One ought not to judge her: all children are Heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb high trees and say shocking things and leap so very high grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one. But, as in their reading and arithmetic and drawing, different children proceed at different speeds. (It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.) Some small ones are terrible and fey, Utterly Heartless. Some are dear and sweet and Hardly Heartless At All. September stood very generally in the middle on the day the Green Wind took her, Somewhat Heartless, and Somewhat Grown.