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Fairyland #5

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home

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This final book in the New York Times-bestselling Fairyland series finds September accidentally crowned the Queen of Fairyland. But there are others who believe they have a fair and good claim on the throne, so there is a Royal Race--whoever wins will seize the crown.

Along the way, beloved characters including the Wyverary, A-Through-L, the boy Saturday, the changelings Hawthorn and Tamburlaine, the wombat Blunderbuss, and the gramophone Scratch are caught up in the madness. And September's parents have crossed the universe to find their daughter.

Who will win? What will become of September, Saturday, and A-Through-L? The answers will surprise you, and are as bewitching and bedazzling as fans of this series by Catherynne M. Valente have come to expect.

308 pages, Hardcover

First published March 1, 2016

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About the author

Catherynne M. Valente

256 books7,327 followers
Catherynne M. Valente was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1979 in Seattle, WA, but grew up in in the wheatgrass paradise of Northern California. She graduated from high school at age 15, going on to UC San Diego and Edinburgh University, receiving her B.A. in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek Linguistics. She then drifted away from her M.A. program and into a long residence in the concrete and camphor wilds of Japan.

She currently lives in Maine with her partner, two dogs, and three cats, having drifted back to America and the mythic frontier of the Midwest.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 400 reviews
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,102 followers
April 25, 2016
So gorgeous.

I think I've said that about the rest of the series, before, but it doesn't make it any less true each and every time I read a Fairyland Book. The fact that it's the last one is sad, true, but the ending makes up for all my trepidations. :)

This one felt slightly more dense in the puns, the hidden treasures, and the storytelling than the previous novels, or perhaps I was simply a bit more anxious to squeeze every last dollop of goodness out of the book because it would be the last. Either way, never imagine that the Cantankerous Derby is a race that follows straight lines or even logic. This is, after all, FAIRYLAND, and things are absolutely bonkers, bonkers, bonkers.

I was really taken for a ride this time, even if the Model A only had a walk on part, but at least we had the boy who lived in all directions at once, our fire-breathing library, a blunderbuss made of yarn, and more than enough shadows to rivet in all our desperate times.

The DUELS were awesome.

The more I think about these books the more I realize they're even better for adults than the ostensible child they're written for. Or is it really for the child that all of us will become Saturday to be? Or is the first kiss really the Kiss That Stands For All Time?

Well anyway, the kiss is the kiss that transcends time because it is the kiss of Story and Story is absolute and utter king. Or Queen.

I'm not blowing any wind here, folks. This book is AWESOME.

Hell, the whole Series is AWESOME. I'm sitting here looking at my little girl and willing her to grow a little bit older so she'll be ready for me to read all of these glorious glorious glorious works of imagination to her. :) I keep showing her the books and she lights up, saying, "Is that Fairyland?" And I say, "Yes, girl, this is Fairyland, and soon you'll be ready to ride the Leopard." "Yay!"

Yeah, yay!
Profile Image for Mari.
708 reviews5,595 followers
January 1, 2021

[October 23, 2016] I've been talking about this series for years now, and yet I put off reading the final installment since I purchased it in March. I reread books 1-4 before I finally settled myself in front of this final entry. It was hard to accept that after this, September's adventures in Fairyland would be over.

Because these books are so amazingly self-aware, Valente addresses this idea right before the end. The narrator assures us that the end is never the end. There is always a place for us within these stories when we open them back up. And don't I know it? I'm constantly in some state of wanting to reread these books.

There's so much to say about this beautiful series as a whole. For this entry, though, suffice to say that it was as well-written, witty, full of heart and still replete with details and descriptions. It didn't end how I'd imagined and how I'd hoped, but it was such a rational ending. It was a neat ending, but because the story veers a little off from the projected path, it wasn't to the detriment of the story.

Lots of characters made small appearances. I would've loved to spend more time with each of them, but I appreciate the effort to tie up so many things. Sometimes it happened a little too quickly and a little too much like a revolving door, but that's probably from the perspective of someone who could've spent another 500 pages just basking in Fairyland goodness.

I love this series to bits and pieces. It's so smart it hurts. Now that this is all finished, I'll start focusing on Valente's other work and seeing if she'll end up as one of my favorite authors ever.

[December 31, 2020] Marking for reread.

It took me a few chapters to get back into this because book four, I think, is the weakest of the bunch. It diverges from the main story and so it takes time to jump back in as we start The Girl Who Raced. This was such a lovely book to read on New Year's Eve. It is so much a book about endings, about growing up with your actions and consequences. It has a sadness to it, but in the way changes are sad and aging can be sad and endings can be sad.

I've loved watching September wrestle with who she is-- an adventurer, a bishop, a revolutionary, a thief, an engineer. She things so much about what she's good at, about where the lines between destiny and choice are.

I love this series a whole heck of a lot, and this was a wonderful ending.
Profile Image for Trish.
2,018 reviews3,436 followers
June 19, 2021
This concludes my wonderful re-read of this series!

The 5th volume has us going back to Fairyland where September now is queen! Yep, happened at the end of the previous book - more or less accidentally.
And now? Now comes the Cantankerous Derby, y‘all!
Magic has brought back ALL the kings and queens that ever ruled Fairyland and they must now race to determine who will rule Fairyland next. And when I say „race“, I mean that liberally. Because the Cantankerous Derby is a mixture of a treasure hunt, a riddle, duels and a final battle.
The problem is that while September doesn‘t want to be queen, she also can‘t let one of the nasty former rulers (spoiler alert: they were all nasty) win.

We thus get explore more corners of Fairyland, all different from the ones we already know, all fantastic! Moreover, we see almost all previously introduced characters again (those we didn‘t see were talked about though, nobody was forgotten).

For a more in-depth look at the story and to see some of the pretty illustrations, see my review of the hardcover edition.

I think what I liked best was that this proved the story had been thought through from the beginning. Everything fit, everything happened for a reason and some hints / questions strewn here or there in previous volumes were addressed / answered.

It still boggles my mind what profound observations the author cleverly weaved into the suspenseful adventure which was itself packaged into gorgeous prose. I mean, there is a reason I highlighted so many quotes in all the books (and I could have highlighted even more).

As with the previous volumes, I read this as an audiobook. And once again, the author read the story herself. It really is a damn shame that the books aren‘t more well-known throughout the world and have thus received so little love from publishing houses. However, the author did indeed do a remarkably wonderful job (getting better and better, in fact) and I still love that September‘s books are narrated by women and only Hawthorn‘s/Thomas‘ book by a guy (and Valente‘s partner at that)!

An honor, a privilege - and a blast!
If you don‘t know these books yet, what the hell are you waiting for?!
Profile Image for Trish.
2,018 reviews3,436 followers
June 5, 2016
So we have come to the end. I will not pretend that I haven't spilled a tear or two or might even be spilling one or two just now.
But at least the author was very generous about the ending. I mean, she even tried to ease the parting for the characters as well as for the reader:
Endings are rubbish. No such thing. Never has been, never will be. There is only the place where you choose to stop talking. Everything else goes on forever.
I will always be here, in my old chair by the door, waiting for you, whenever you are lonesome. Our little house will always look just the same as when we first blew the dust off the bookshelves, and the kettle will always be just about to boil. Sometimes I will be young, and sometimes I will be old, and sometimes you will be young, and sometimes you will be old. But for as long as forever, I will keep a room for you.

That also brings me to the first wonderful notion in this book I want to talk about: the story being a house. Not just the story of this book but the entire series. Every adventure being a corridor with many rooms. We've been to the garden, we've been to the cellar, we've been to the roof ... we can always open the doors again. Beautiful.

So what was this last story about? Well, at the end of the last book, September became - more or less by coincidence - the queen of Fairyland!

Not that she had planned for it AT ALL. Also, she misses her home (having been gone longer than ever). But you can't just give Fairyland's crown back. Moreover, some magic happens, bringing ALL the former Kings and Queens back to race in the Cantankerous Derby for the crown. The problem? Most of them were never nice so September can't just let them win.

Seriously, I came to resent the fairies soooo much. Much like September, I was missing them in the first and second book but think the author made them into something different, yet still wonderful (in a villaneous kind of way).

The race itself is of course not a straight thing as the ones we know, that would be far too easy. And too boring. It's a mixture of a treasure hunt, a riddle, duels and a final battle. Let's just say that that was another beautifully executed notion with a very satisfying conclusion.

So this book brings back almost all the characters from the previous books (some don't make an appearance but are mentioned at least) and what a gathering it is! So many things that didn't seem all THAT important are revealed, showing that the author really thought the entire thing through from the beginning and wanted to create something entirely her own (and succeeded).

The writing itself, again, is magical.
We have scenes like but also wonderful quotes like this one by one of the bad Kings, Hushnow:
"Everything good is also ghastly. [...] You can ignore the ghastly, but it doesn't go away.[...]"

or the author's comments like this one:
But that is the way of theatre, girl. It is everything, and then the curtain comes down and all you've got left is a program and a half-eaten chocolate.

Then there are the usual fantastic descriptions and awe-inspiring regions of Fairyland the author came up with (new ones every time), like Saturday's grandmother, the ocean, and some of the places they see underwater!

It shows once again (and for all) that Catherynne Valente herself is a mage and her wand is a pen.

So we literally race through events, hardly ever stopping, definitely never getting bored - but always entertained, surprised, and even awed.

The ending was ... unique. Seriously, I did NOT expect that! But it absolutely works, it actually makes much more sense than anything other authors have come up with in the past when writing similar stories.

Finally, the illustrations were rich in detail again and wonderfully quirky as ever, giving the story its own (one might say familiar) flair.

A bitter-sweet ending to a fantastic series that I cannot praise enough. I really wished it was more well-known throughout the world because it will always be one of the best series I've ever read and does not need to shy away from comparisons to greater (more well-known) names!
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,275 reviews227 followers
March 9, 2016
I've loved every book in this series, but this one I loved the most.

September is again the main character, and Hawthorn, Tamburlaine and Blunderbuss from the previous book are all major characters in this one. After all, once you introduce a Combat Wombat into your story, she's going to be a major character. You even get a look at the Land of Wom :) There's a race to find the Heart of Fairyland complete with rules, racers and duels. And lots of September, Saturday and Ell.

Valente has a remarkable gift for fairytales and poetic prose and she infuses every one of these books with a lot more depth than you'd expect in what are ostensibly children's books (they are really not, unless you count reading them to your kids ... there's a story for both parents and children here). You should be able to see the cleverness from all the quotes in the book from my (frequent) updates. Well, all except for that terrible lavish pun :)

This is the final volume of this round of Fairyland stories and the ending is beautiful. Worthwhile and, in some ways, inevitable. But I've been used to reading these every year like clockwork so I can't help but feel a bit sad.

I wish there was some way of giving this six stars.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,015 followers
March 31, 2016
Nooo, I don’t want it to be the end! That said, it isn’t as bad as I’d feared: it doesn’t end like Narnia, with all the magic going away in favour of allegory. Fairyland remains as real and wild and strange, and the ending as bitter-and-sweetly magical as the other books. I was a little disappointed not to see more of Hawthorn and Tam’s adventures; The Boy Who Lost Fairyland is really a one-off in going so far from September, and I’m not sure I like that I never got my answers to questions about Hawthorn and Tam and how they feel about leaving behind their human families.

The weird wonders of Fairyland continue, as beautiful and strangely perfect as ever. I want to meet most of the characters (or hide from the nastier ones). And sometimes I can’t help but feel that the narrator looks into my heart just as much as she does September’s. Especially when the hippos named after bottles from the liquor cabinet come in (if you know me, you probably know about Helen, and if you know Helen, you know my heart).

Also, Blunderbuss! I love that at least we get Blunderbuss in this one, and A-Through-L being awesome and the whole bit with the main library and the book bears and…

No, I’m probably not capable of writing a coherent review of these books. This one is just as charming as the rest, though perhaps a bit sadder, because you know it’s the last, and because various things that happen during the race to be ruler of Fairyland make you worry about the characters and whether things can ever be the same.

Oh, and some things that some characters have been waiting for since the first book finally come to pass. So all in all, it’s a very satisfying end to the series, except for the fact that nobody wants it to end. The whole series might be marketed as young adult, but I think perhaps it has more for the adult who can still dream.

Originally posted here.
Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews159k followers
May 5, 2016
The final book in Valente’s wondrous Fairyland series, The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All The Way Home is by turns beautiful, harrowing, heart-wrenching, hilarious, and filled to the brim with love. Picking up directly after The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, September and company are free, only to find themselves surrounded by all of the madcap, murderous, and malignant rulers of Fairyland who ever were, and all of them want the crown that now sits on September’s head. And thus, in pure Fairyland fashion, the only way to choose the new ruler, is with a race to find the Heart of Fairyland itself. Valente said that when she finished writing this book, she bawled her eyes, and honestly, I was right there with her. For four books, we’ve seen our girl September grow and change, seen her heart learn how to be full, seen how she learns to juggle bravery and common sense with one hand, how the most important thing a person can do is love and understand and exercise compassion and empathy over terror and intimidation, how that is the greatest magic a being can master. And as we’ve seen her grow, we’ve grown with her, too. Our own hearts are that much bigger, our own sense of love and empathy that much brighter. And at the close of this novel, we’ve explored every nook and cranny of this home, and while I’m sure we’ll come back out to the porch and tell tales under the stars, this home is known to us, and now it is time for bed. The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All The Way Home ends the only way it possible can: perfectly, sweetly, with a smile and a wink and a promise of magic to come. This book wrapped itself around like the warmest blanket and hug and home all wrapped in one, and I’ll always carry a piece of this series in my pocket with me.

– Marty Cahill

from The Best Books We Read In April: http://bookriot.com/2016/04/29/riot-r...
Profile Image for Maris Bave.
220 reviews14 followers
July 11, 2020
Arghlebalrgle I love this series so much.

I love it because you don't have to grow up at the end if you don't want to. There's no inevitable "you must stop having fun now and move on to more serious matters" moment, but in spite of that September is able to grow and change and keep discovering wonderful things without having to give up any of the other sorts of wonder she'd found as a child. The same goes for many Grown-Ups in the series. Wonder and magic for everyone!

I love it because it is at once serialized and circular. Each chapter across all five books is nearly a standalone adventure, but plenty of little details you met at the beginning sneak around to the end to surprise you there as well with their importance and meaning.

I love it because it is hilarious and whimsical and truthful, if the truth stood on its head and did a funny dance so that we wouldn't recognize it at first. I love it for the wordplay and the worldplay. I love it because in between the funny and the clever there's plenty of serious and sad. The stakes are real and ever-present under the whimsy and magic.

I love it because it features a FIRE-BREATHING WYVERARY and a FANTASTIC COMBAT WOMBAT and how can you not love those things?!

I love it so much it's going on my forever-favorites shelf here on Goodreads and my special shelf for favorites in real life where I can read it over and over again. Not many books wind up there, because it's kind of a small shelf and space on it is precious, but the Fairyland series more than deserves a spot.
Profile Image for Melani.
574 reviews21 followers
May 23, 2016
The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home is the conclusion to Catherynne Valente's Fairland series for middle grade readers. The first book was a revelation, and is the book that introduced me to Valente. I adored that book, loved it. I enjoyed the second and third books as well, though I don't think they ever managed to really re-capture the magic in the first book. However the fourth book, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, was a huge disappointment. Still, even given that I'd been disappointed with The Boy Who Lost Fairyland I immediately pre-ordered this last book and hoped that the conclusion would recapture the magic of the first book. Sadly, I've been struggling with this book for three months now and I think I'm just done.

I had a couple of issues with the book. The first is exemplified in the summary. Look at that cast of characters, there are so many. And each one is unique and quirky. It's Fairyland, so you can't just have talking animals you have to have talking stuffed animals, and the child of a wyvern and a library, or any number of other unusual combinations. I love A-Through-L, but he's become just one more weird character in a book chock full of weird characters. I'm a big Oz fan, huge Oz fan, I love those books, and I can see Oz all over this series. However, Baum seemed to be willing to let some of his odder creations be one book characters, something Valente doesn't want to do. If the character appeared somewhere in the previous books then by golly it'll get a shot to show up here. This actually lessens the power of a character showing up at all, because you don't really get to spend time with anyone.

The other issue I had is that I choked on the tweeness of the descriptions. I've said before that I love Valente's way with words, and I do. However, sometimes she lets her pure enjoyment with shaping visuals get away from her and you end up with words jumbled together in ways that add nothing to the over all visual. It's like an artist spending hours painting a pink and orange tree in a forest of rainbow trees. That one tree is going to get lost in the rest of the trees and you can't even see the overall picture because you're too overwhelmed by the colorful forest.

But my main issue with the book is that I think Valente started writing the later books for children and made them easier and simpler because she thought that's how a children's book should be. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making wasn't really written for children, it was written as a companion novel to Palimpsest where it appeared as an imaginary novel. Valente wrote it for the fans of that novel and it kind of took off and became it's own beast and she became a surprise children's book author. I don't want to say that she started dumbing her novels down, because I don't think that's quite it. But she stopped allowing the danger of Fairyland to be a real danger, and the books went from something quite powerful to a cute little story that have little emotional weight because there's no real weight to anything.

I will say, the ending pulled the book from a one star disappointment. While there is little actual plot in the novel, Valente does have a way of wrapping things together in a nice bow and this ending is no different. It's a natural conclusion to the series, and I quite liked it.

Overall, I'm just disappointed and sad. I still love the first book, and I will re-read it often. I don't think I'll continue to re-read the rest of September's adventures in Fairyland.
Profile Image for K..
3,796 reviews1,022 followers
July 31, 2019
Trigger warnings: violence, memory loss in a loved one, fire.

This is utterly delightful from start to finish. I loved jumping around all over Fairyland. I loved the way September's family tie into the story. I had a lot of feelings about September and Saturday. And the ending was perfection.

I've loved this series so much that even though I got my hands on this one about a month ago, I put off reading it simply because I didn't want the series to be over. But now that I've read it, I'm so glad that I did because it was perfect.

Everything comes full circle in this book. Characters from the previous four books pop up throughout, and are just as wonderful as they were the first time around. The writing is as beautiful and poignant as ever, and throughout the whole series, all I've been able to think of is how wonderful these books would be to read aloud to kids who think they're too old for bedtime stories. They're such whimsical and peculiar and magical books, and I really wish I could persuade my niece that we need to read them together because I'm pretty sure she'd love them, but there's no way she'd pick them up on her own because reading is the Actual Worst (sigh).

Basically, I love this series a lot, I adore the relationship between September and Saturday (and it gave me a hell of a lot of feelings in this book), and everything featuring A-through-L made me smile in this one, especially the librarian related parts.

In short, this was everything I wanted and more. Perfection, pure and simple.
Profile Image for Alex.
805 reviews34 followers
September 3, 2023
I was able to get an advanced copy through my work, and I am so incredibly happy that I did.

This book is beautiful. The ending it perfect, and honestly if I hadn’t been reading it while at work I probably would have cried. This is the perfect end to the series, though to be honest I would love more, full books, different series set in the same world, novellas, short stories, everything. My heart bursts and fills over and over again when I read these books. Every time I read one it makes me want to go back and re-read them all over again.

September is in a race to rule fairyland. Everyone and anyone is welcome to the Derby, but it’s not just a race they also have to find the heart of fairyland to win the crown and rule. Every ruler of fairyland is back from the beyond and everyone wants to win. With the help of Ell, and our beloved Saturday September wants to win fairyland but can she compete with the Fairy Queen, or the Ice Cream Man? How about fighting the Marquess again? Duels if you are in the same space as another racer determine if you have to go back from whence you came, and of course we have to travel all of Fairyland to find her heart. Is it in Ell’s Great Grandmother on his father’s side? Is it in the Sea that Saturday grew up in? Is it somehow in the land of Wom? Oh September how my heart loves you.

With the dreamy and romantic verse that we all love, let the narrator tell you the name of the amiable dog, let the narrator take you to the briary but this time with a queen, and let the narrator tell you the story of September and just let your heart sigh sweetly.

For those who have read all the others and are hoping this isn’t the last one read this book you will love it.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,015 followers
November 22, 2018
Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.

It’s been a long road with September, and she’s grown up so much. The final book does so much, winding all the stories to a graceful close and doing so with style, emotion and a lot of cleverness. In other words, exactly as you’d expect from Valente and this series. I won’t say she can’t put a foot wrong, but the narrator is so charming and the world of Fairyland so wild and wonderful that I’m willing to forgive it any number of sins. (Whether it’s willing to forgive me entirely depends on its mood that day. But there, that’s the whimsy getting hold of me.)

And again, the ending is why I think this series is really more for adults than it’s been marketed, or even reviewed by a lot of people: you need to know the stories and have the experiences to understand what Valente does with them fully. The cleverness isn’t all obvious, and if you think you’re too adult for this series, well… I can understand it not being your thing, but there’s also a fair bit of snobbishness going round about books that get classed as YA.

In any case, it’s always a relief to come to the narrator’s reassurance at the end that she’s waiting for us to come back, settle in, and read it all again. I have no doubt I will.
Profile Image for MJ.
369 reviews60 followers
March 4, 2016
I am insensible right now and it's ALL CAT VALENTE'S FAULT. Oh September, how I've missed you. And how you have grown up. And how I'm sad to see you go.

The last Fairyland book goes a little something like this (it may sound familiar):

The Lion and the Unicorn (and the Marquess, and the Ancient and Demented Raven Lord, and the Moose-Khan, and the Rex Tyrannosaur, and the Elegant Emperor, and others...) are fighting for the crown, and poor September is caught in the middle, once again. She was crowned the Queen, the Engineer, just hours ago; now all rulers past and present of Fairyland are caught up in a bizarre and Cantankerous Derby for the right to rule the most beautiful and irascible kingdom of all.

Saturday and September and A-through-L and Hawthorne the troll and Tamburlaine and BLUNDERBUSS (my darling Blunderbuss, Combat Wombat and Biter of Things She Loves And Also That She Is Frightened Of And Sometimes Just Things That Look Yummy) help where they can, but in the end this is September's story, as it ought to be. One doesn't become Queen of Fairyland any other way. And if it doesn't end quite the way you'd expect, well, that's somewhat to be expected around these parts.

As a Lover of Narrative, I deeply admire the way everything in Fairyland comes together and everything comes full circle. And September's story ends--begins?--in the most colorful and wild and daring adventure of them all.

Five stars; Fairyland is weird and wild and wonderful and anyone who is any of those things will fall in love with her.
Profile Image for Emily Vander Ark.
Author 2 books14 followers
September 22, 2016
I really wanted to like this, but after the first book this series only progressed into a convoluted merry go round covered in gumdrops. All of the things I loved about the first book, because they were special and surprising and different, have been taken to such an extreme that I can't even focus on the pages, and what was once wonderful has become too much - annoying.
Profile Image for Jacq.and.the.readstalk.
306 reviews9 followers
June 28, 2021
This series came to a beautiful end. Valente is just a master storyteller! The Queen of words!

It remains its colourful, flowery, zany, and unique storytelling all the way through from the first book to the very last. The characters bring utter delight as the race for the crown of Fairyland ensues. Filled with lush imagery that literally tantalizes the senses and a whimsical philosophy and wit, Cathrynne M. Valente has created a delightful series, that will capture your heart under lock and key.

September is a tribute to the classic literature heroines that we all know and love. She devolved from a child to a young woman seamlessly. What I love most about this series is the quirky menagerie of creatures that fill the world of Fairyland. It's not just the typical fairies and gnomes and pixies but a whole plethora of fair-folk creatures from traditional mythology. I undertook research into these creatures as I wanted to learn more and was fascinated by how the author incorporated them into the series. Standing ovation!!! This is exactly how I imagine Fairyland to be!

It really was the perfect ending to a beloved series, but I will dearly miss the gang of September, Saturday, and A-through-L (Ell.) Though there could be a potential for a spin-off series...

IG Post: https://www.instagram.com/p/B9dcfU0Al...
Profile Image for Suanne Laqueur.
Author 25 books1,510 followers
February 13, 2022
I’ll never be able to convey what this series, and Valente herself—means to me.
Profile Image for Jen Eyre.
26 reviews1 follower
March 30, 2016

I love the Fairyland-series more than I can coherently put into words.

That said, I both eagerly anticipated and sadly dreaded the release of its final installment.

Needless to say, Ms. Valente did not disappoint.

The book picks up exactly where The Boy Who Lost Fairyland left of. Fairyland's in a turmoil, and September, the perhaps not so reluctant queen, and her merry band of friends must set out on a race against all of Fairyland's former rulers in search of the Heart of Fairyland.

The story is everything I expected of the Grande Finale. There is action, romance, whimsical encounters with beloved characters from all the previous books as well as fantastical settings, ingenious creatures and heaps of humour.

The real joy, for me, throughout this series has always been Valentes beautiful prose. I absolutely LOVE the inherent, effortless feminism which shines from every detail, I LOVE the numerous Shakespeare allusions, being a rather obsessive Shakespeare nerd myself (I read this on my commute and found my travelling companions greatly startled at my outburst over "pursued by a stoat").

I adore the imagination, the creativity and the loving attention to detail put into these books.

The ending was just heartwarmingly perfect and my already much abused aforementioned fellow commuters actually had to suffer witnessing a tear or two.

I fervently hope to someday meet September, her Wyveary, Saturday Blunderbuss and the whole crazy bunch of loveable rascals again!

This series will definitely make it to my alltime favourites and I sense a reread-a-thon in the not so distant future.

Farewell, September. I shall miss you!
Profile Image for The Librarian Witch.
73 reviews64 followers
April 4, 2017
Oh Fairyland...
I shall be so sad to see you go!
I know you must, but it doesn't make saying goodbye any easier *sobs*

This whole series of books was so magical, whimsical, cosy and delightful!

"Let us take a great swaggering knife between us - it will take both our hands - and slice it open to see what we can see inside. For that is all a story is, my dears: a knife that cuts the world into pieces small enough to eat."

I'm so glad that this installment goes back to having September, Saturday, and Ell as the main characters.
While I enjoyed the previous book (The Boy Who Lost Fairyland), it just didn't thrill me as much as the other books have. I much prefer to have September as my adventuring partner while I run and skip through Fairyland, thank you very much.
Hawthorn and Tamburlaine do make great side-characters in this one though, if you loved them very much and are worried about missing them! So fear not!

This was probably my second favouite of the Fairyland series (with the first book coming in a solid first place long before the others have even started the race or even tied their shoes)
The plot was interesting and kept me glued to the page throughout.
I loved the idea of a race through Fairyland! It meant that we got to visit so many new places, meet wonderful new friends, and even meet up with old ones again for a spot of tea!
It was wonderful :)

I won't spoil the ending for you, but I thought it was quite delightful.
I don't think I could have asked for the series to have been ended in a better way!
I makes saying goodbye to all these lovely friends, who I've spent so much time with, that little bit easier.

"A thing is hardly real if no one's written about it. It's the writing that makes a thing proper and solid and true in the first place."

And who knows, maybe one day we'll find our way back to Fairyland once more?
919 reviews255 followers
April 16, 2016
It's arrived! It's here! I have this in my hands and as sad as I am that the story is finishing here, I can't wait to see how beautifully it ends...

Now after all that excitement I have to admit slight disappointment. Maybe expectations were too high? But there was a lot of zany description and not very much plot at all - which was fun for a time, but the stakes were high and never felt it and so the whole thing felt sugary sweet in a way that the Fairyland books really haven't felt before.

However the ending was remarkably satisfying for all this, and an author like Valente is readable at all times, amazing or somewhat less so.
Profile Image for Michelle.
597 reviews6 followers
June 1, 2016
I...I honestly don't know why I didn't love it? I'm a fan of the previous ones. I sped read the last half of it solely to finish it after putting it down for a month, but I can't put my finger on why. The ending was a perfect fit to the series. I just didn't enjoy it? The writing is exactly the same as before, but I found it to be so cumbersome to get through each paragraph of fanciful description. I feel like I read it wrong somehow.
Profile Image for Kristin B. Bodreau.
295 reviews50 followers
November 10, 2022
A lot of fantastic little gems of ideas and prose lost in a lot of rambling that was trying to be fantastic.
Profile Image for Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all).
2,020 reviews186 followers
April 22, 2022
I'm saddened to be so glad this book is over. This is the curse of the modern book series. I adored the first volume, but each successive book was less and less enchanting. I'm not saying Valente can't write; she can, when she focusses on plot and development instead of falling in love with her own vocabulary. In this last instalment, Valente never uses one word where two dozen will do. It was so overwritten, the purple prose was so very overwrought, that I began to wonder if she wrote it while she was high, like Coleridge. Shakespeare was right (as he usually is); most of this book is just "words, words, words." Plot there is not much, the narrator broke the 4th wall far too often, and the switching back and forth between one set of characters and another got to be a bit much. It took me several days to finish, and that says a lot. I kept putting it down, and the farther in I got the more reluctant I was to pick it back up.
By the time I got to the unsatisfactory ending, I was done in every sense of the word.
1.5 stars is pushing it. This book began to remind me of Valente's failed jazz-age tale Speak Easy, and that is not a compliment. Most definitely not.
688 reviews28 followers
August 2, 2017
Another wonderful lengthy title, already a little sad though. Dorothy/Alice/the Pevensies/ always have to go home, so I guess so must September. But haven't read the fourth so who knows?

UPDATE 11/04/15

Look at the cover!!!!!!

It's so pretty!!!

UPDATE 23/05/15

I have now read the fourth book and...no, no, no! September is not going home! I won't allow it! I mean So yeah, it's not happening.


This book was wonderful. A final romp around Fairyland with September and the gang. September has grown up so much. I felt so proud of her. A beautiful conclusion to a brilliant series. I can now happily say that Fairyland is a great series from beginning to end.
Profile Image for Bridget Mckinney.
251 reviews44 followers
April 5, 2016
Catherynne M. Valente’s first Fairyland book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, established this series from the very start as a superbly written and sublimely beautiful story for children, and The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home is a totally fitting conclusion to the story of September and her friends. It would perhaps be too much to ask for every installment of the series to be as good as the first one, and the fourth one (The Boy Who Lost Fairyland) stood out as decidedly different from the rest. Still, it did help to set up this finale, which is every bit as good—and even a little more polished—as the rest of the series.

Read the full review at SF Bluestocking.
Profile Image for Fran.
1,060 reviews2 followers
April 14, 2021
I picked this up for a genre challenge without really looking at either the title or summary. Having said that, rarely do I just grab a book/audio book with little to no forethought. This book was the last in a series that was several books long. The audio book was narrated beautifully, the characters and settings reminded me a great deal of a modern re-telling of Alice in Wonderland. It was silly and funny and crammed full of characters that were inanimate objects or animals. It would have been truly delightful IF I had read the entire series correctly. But I didn't and so I was left feeling, well, like I was reading the last book of a series I had no prior knowledge of.
Profile Image for Matt.
3 reviews
March 3, 2022
Maybe I’m not judging this book objectively, and I don’t care. Why should I have to? I had gotten a little sour on this series over the last few volumes, but I persevered because the first book is one my very favourites, and because I’m a sucker for using far too many beautiful words to say what you want to say (even if what you want to say is a story that is slightly less than excellent).

But this story IS excellent. It was lovely, and satisfying, and it made me feel all the things. I could not have guessed how it would end, but there were so many parts where I thought, “Oh, I should have seen that coming!”

Maybe I will have to come back and say more later, but for now… my heart is full. This was just what I needed.
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