The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland – For A Little While, by Catherynne M. Valente

Series: Fairyland, #0.5

Format: Kindle edition

Publisher: Tor

Published: July 27th 2011

In which a young girl named Mallow leaves the country for the city, meets a number of Winds, Cats, and handsome folk, sees something dreadful, and engages, much against her will, in Politicks of the most muddled kind.

This novella is, fittingly enough for its place in the order of Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland series, my first foray into the author’s work – and for such a short taste of what’s to follow, it’s a delightfully sweet one.

As the title suggests, this is the story of how its main character, Mallow, becomes Queen of Fairyland. She does so very much against her will, but until she arrives at this unfortunate result, there is plenty of the wonder of Fairyland to explore. Here’s where I’m really impressed with Valente’s writing style. The lyrical prose, simple and elegant and utterly whimsical all at once, even with its slightly darker undertone thanks to the story (not to mention the character of the King), drew me in at once, and I absolutely loved that blend of qualities in the way she tells this story. To me it embodies everything that a good fairy story should be. Strange, magical, endlessly fascinating – and deep down, very dangerous. If this is at all typical of the novels that follow, then I can’t wait to get stuck into those as well. 

I picked up this novella to introduce myself to Valente’s work before I embark on a book club read of the first Fairyland novel, and I’m so glad I did. Everything about this little taster pleases my fairytale-loving self – and I mean everything. It evoked the best aspects of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland tales, while maintaining its own unique style and ‘voice’. Absolutely lovely … in a creepy and foreboding kind of way.

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