Patrick's Reviews > The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own M... by Catherynne M. Valente
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it was amazing
bookshelves: books-i-would-blurb, good-books-for-little-kids

I walked into the bookstore in a bit of a mood.

Wait, that's my Midwestern nature talking. We tend to understate. The truth is I walked into the bookstore furious at the world. I can't remember why. I am prone to dark moods, and when I'm in the middle of one, I tend to rumble through the world like an angry old-testament god.

I went directly to the Sci-Fi Fantasy section. That's where I live for the most part. That's where I go when the world gets to be too much for me.

I looked at the titles. I'd read about a quarter of them. I read a lot. But nothing looked particularly good. Nothing does when I'm in one of my moods.

A friendly bookseller walked over. "Can I help you find anything?" she asked.

"I want to read something good," I said. "I'm tired of gritty depressing shit. I want a fun, light book that isn't going to leave me wanting to put a gun in my mouth."

I'm not hyperbolizing. That's what I actually said. It wasn't a nice thing to say, but I can be unpleasantly brusk at times.

The bookseller didn't bat and eye. She pointed out a couple books, then asked how I felt about YA.

"I'll read anything if it's good," I said.

She pointed out this book. I'd heard of it before, appreciated its awesome title. I like faerie stories. Most importantly, I've read Cat Valente's work before, and I know she has a marvelous grip on the language.

Five pages into this book, I thought, "Why didn't I read this years ago? Why haven't I heard about this book before?"

I flipped to the back cover and saw blurbs from Neil Gaiman and Peter S. Beagle. "Oh," I thought. "Probably because I'm an idiot who lives under a rock."

Ten pages in, I was irritated. Fifteen pages in, I was jealous. Twenty pages in, I was in love.

So. A review:

This book is beautiful. The language is lovely without being pretentious. The story is careful and playful and smart. This book made me tear up in places. Not because it is particularly sad. But because sometimes when a story is true and sweet and perfectly shaped, it puts its hand around my heart.

This book is everything I love about Victorian faerie tales without all the tedious bullshit.

This is the best book I've read all year. And I read a *lot* of books.

I look forward to reading this book to my little boy. And that, ultimately, is the best thing I can say about a book.

So yeah. Read it. Read it ten times.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 21, 2014 – Shelved
August 21, 2014 – Shelved as: books-i-would-blurb
August 21, 2014 – Shelved as: good-books-for-little-kids
August 21, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 61 (61 new)


message 1: by Tess (new) - added it

Tess Fantastic review. I hope you go back and give the bookseller a hug :)


message 2: by Janea (last edited Aug 21, 2014 08:46AM) (new)

Janea I've loved Catherynne Valente's work for a long time. Glad you've found another one of her lovely works.


message 3: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen The audiobook is also wonderful and charming and everything good in the world. :)


message 4: by Tony (new)

Tony Jaeger Seconded. That definitely deserves a hug to the helpful young lady.


message 5: by L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

L. I think this is the best book I've ever read. And I think I read a lot. It was magic.


message 6: by Matteo (new)

Matteo Everything you do what about Victorian faerie tales? :)


message 7: by Eva (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eva Is a must read, then. Thank you!


message 8: by Simone (new) - added it

Simone Cooper I bought it for a friend's daughter on the strength of the first two pages! I'm glad to hear it continues to be so beautiful :-) I will read it myself, now.


message 9: by Brian (new)

Brian Mcnamara Ok Grumpy, I'm going to buy this book. Can you go back and ask your friendly bookseller for some more recommendations please?


GrilledCheeseSamurai (Scott) Hells to the YEAH.

I heart these books!


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I need so much this book. *~*


message 12: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason This is why we love bookstores.


message 13: by Crispin (new) - added it

Crispin Young I am in exactly this type of stormy mood, need something light and nourishing for my heart, and this review cinched it for me. Thank you :)


message 14: by Megan (new) - added it

Megan Aww! This review is great. I hope Oot will like it too.C= I'll have to go read this book now.

And, for the record, Mr. Rothfuss, I really think you would enjoy a book called The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. Really. You should check it out. I think you will be glad you did.


message 15: by Jo (new) - added it

Jo I think there are two more books in the series, aren't there? Will you be reading the others as well now? :)


message 16: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan Great review! Directly to my TO READ list.


message 17: by Christer (new)

Christer Lundstrom Bought on my kindle immediately… (Great deal @ $5.42!) next to read after the new Lev Grossman.


Crystal I've read it. I loved the use of language in it.


message 19: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel I've never had a review tear me up before, though I suppose it could just be post-lunch emotions. Yeah, I'll go with that. This book has always been on my maybe list because of the title and you have definitely moved it to the need to read list. I'm not sure how I feel about that.


Alice Jen wrote: "The audiobook is also wonderful and charming and everything good in the world. :)"

I agree. The only drawback is, you miss out on the lovely illustrations.


Rebecca Jordan One of the best books I've ever read. Period.


message 22: by Navarre (new)

Navarre Even Patrick's reviews are better than many books I've read. :)


Anna-louise Oh yes! Yes! Yes! I wish my words could have summed up this book better in my review. The next two are just as brilliant :)


message 24: by Erica (new)

Erica Truth.

Navarre wrote: "Even Patrick's reviews are better than many books I've read. :)"


message 25: by Joe (new) - added it

Joe Wow, what a review. I've never been tempted to read YA before. Perhaps I'll call it a gift for my daughter that I might borrow.


message 26: by Loren (new)

Loren Dearborn I've been reading the Fairyland books to my boys for years now. At 10 and 13 some would say my boys are a little "old" to be read to - but I beg to differ. Our family has a long tradition of reading aloud together. When I was a girl my dad read the hobbit and entire Lord of the Rings to me and my sister, which took years! By the end we were long past the age of *needing* to be read to but the comfort, coziness and wonder of sharing a story together overcame any self consciousness we may have had. And it's been the same for my boys.

I hope you and your kids have as much fun sharing fairyland together as we have.


message 27: by Chris (new) - added it

Chris With the week I have had, this is the exact kind of book I need...


Mandor I love Valente! Her writing is a marvel. I highly recommend In the Night Garden too; I liked it even better than Fairyland. To this day, it suffuses my book-reader's soul with wonder and is one of my top 5 books of all time.


message 29: by Alice (new) - added it

Alice I was planning on buying this book the moment I heard its title for the first time because it is perfection. Your review made me even more excited about it! Thank you sir Rothfuss :D


message 30: by Dani (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dani I love this. I love you. Added to my to read list :)


message 31: by Angela (new) - added it

Angela McCain Oh Pat. I want to say that the words of someone I've not spoken to but only sat six feet away from at a Florida Books-A-Million meet-and-greet cannot control my purchasing habits. Unfortunately, you have the burden of being both one of my favorite authors and darn pleasant to listen to from the floor of a Florida Books-A-Million, so I guess I'm going to have to buy this book. Thank you so much for making book reviews that help me find things I might enjoy, but also are enjoyable in their own right!


Saphana Brian wrote: "Ok Grumpy, I'm going to buy this book. Can you go back and ask your friendly bookseller for some more recommendations please?"

If you like it, you can pick up all its sequels (and one prequel, Fairyland 0.5), check https://www.goodreads.com/series/5934...


Rachel Ayers Book 2 is just as good, and book 3 starts slow but has a wallop of a pay-off. And the prequel is just delightful.


Grace Excellent! We are on the same page so far on all the reviews you have posted in GoodReads. I will read anything you recommend from now on. :) ALSO, OKAY ALREADY! I will read the rest of your books. I have read only 1 so far. :)


message 35: by J.m.s (last edited Aug 22, 2014 05:50PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

J.m.s If you enjoyed her books and can't wait for her next works, check out the short story she wrote that's set in the same universe - http://www.tor.com/stories/2011/07/th...


message 36: by Jason (new)

Jason Troxel Jealous!?? How about I'm jealous of your wonderfully well written review. And thankful for you pointing out a great book to read.


message 37: by Isaiah (new)

Isaiah Thanks for the recommendation! Also, as one who has dark moods myself, I hope you feel better.


Jaimie Teekell Wow, you wrote this 2 days ago? Someone showed me this review and I assumed it was years old, since I also had distantly heard of this book, liked the title, and failed to pick it up. This review was shown to me this morning and I finished the book in one day.


message 39: by Ivy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ivy Mr. Rothfuss, I'm that "friendly bookseller." I'm really glad you enjoyed this book. I think this series is some of the best written YA out there right now. And the series keeps getting better. Kudos to Valente.


Meran There are several more in this series, you know ;)
I read it first online. She had to change some things in order to publish in hardcover: like the Girl's age. She was younger, for one.
And yes, Cat's work is very easy to fall in love with. Have you read her Orphan's Tales? It's still my favorite, of all her books. (there are two of them. Someday, I'll do some illustrations from the Tales, if I'm lucky enough to find the time. Lol)


Hershey I loved this book too!


Aaron R. Thanks to Ivy for recommending this to Pat, and thanks to Pat for writing this brilliant review. I'm currently listening to it at work, and it is making a tedious day fly by.


message 43: by Laura (last edited Sep 02, 2014 09:34AM) (new)

Laura Lewis Ivy wrote: "Mr. Rothfuss, I'm that "friendly bookseller." I'm really glad you enjoyed this book. I think this series is some of the best written YA out there right now. And the series keeps getting better. Kud..."

It is wonderful booksellers like you that first led me to The Name of the Wind a couple of years ago, based on my love for Codex Alera by Jim Butcher and The Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks. So thank you, and please keep being such a wonderful person <3

Beautiful review. I tend to avoid YA, even back when I was a young adult, because the writing can get far too simplistic and dumbed down. Yet how can a person resist with a review like this? A great, well-written story is still a great, well-written story reguardless of the genre. This is definitely going on my reading list.


message 44: by Beth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beth Loved it!


Patrick Ivy wrote: "Mr. Rothfuss, I'm that "friendly bookseller." I'm really glad you enjoyed this book. I think this series is some of the best written YA out there right now. And the series keeps getting better. Kud..."

If I never got around to officially thanking you...Thanks.


April Cote My 12 daughter read this book a couple of years ago. She did a book review on it for school and the school ended up displaying the review. Why? Because her pure, honest joy and love for this book shined through her review. A copy of the review hung on our refrigerator for a year. To this day, even a few years after she read it, no matter where she sees that book, a library, store, someone's house, she runs to it, and grabs it up with a squeal every time, declaring her love for the story once again. That is what a good book should do to you. Your review made me think of her. Great review. :) I can't wait to read it. I plan on doing a buddy read with my daughter and son. I can't wait to share in her joy of discovering a wonderful faeire tale.


message 47: by finecat (new) - added it

finecat Great review!


message 48: by callahan09 (new)

callahan09 Bought this for my girlfriend a few months back because she loves Faerie stories. She still hasn't read it, so maybe I'll give it a read soon instead!


Danielle Macisaac This book has been sitting on my daughter's book shelf for a year, unread. I think this is motivation for me to pick it up.


Gerald Dieterich read this based on your recommendation. I loved it too. Thanks for the good find!


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