Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente

The fourth of Valente's Fairyland books, after The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, and The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, switches focus from September, a Kansas girl from the early interwar years, and instead shows us Hawthorn, a troll stolen away from Fairyland to be a changeling in Chicago at around the same time September was going the other way.

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland felt shorter than the September books, and also spent a lot of time getting going: it opens with Hawthorn as a tot and the switch, and continues with a couple of chapters of his schooldays in the mundane world before he finally connects (years later) with another changeling and finally finds his way back to Fairyland. As is typical for Valente's books, Fairyland is in bad shape, with a bad ruler, and the people are suffering. Hawthorn needs to find the Rebel Alliance equivalent, join up, and then go off to find the one person who can make Fairyland better again. And I wouldn't dream of telling you who that is.

It's episodic, like all of the books in this series, and the biggest draws are Valente's inventive ideas and her sly narrative asides. Hawthorn, I'm afraid, is even more of a lump than September was in the first book, but deep characterization has never been the point of these books. The next book is supposedly the last one, so perhaps Valente is tiring of the world -- there's a feeling in this book that may be the case.

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