What’s the difference between Picasso and Catherynne M. Valente? One paints with paints, the other paints with words. The first two books in her Fairy Land series have been magically engaging and beautiful to read. The third book, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairy Land and Cut the Moon In Two, is another work of beautiful words, but the magically engaging story wasn’t quite as magical or engaging as I expected it to be.
I say that carefully…I enjoyed the book immensely. It’s just that the first two stories drove themselves so well, and the third one stalled out a few times. It was almost like the whimsy and the glory of the words took precedence over the story. This time around, instead of September moving herself from one task to another, she has to stop and listen to a lecture. Every new person September meets—first page to last page—spends several pages waxing poetic about this or that life lesson. It happens over and over again! Still, each lecture is filled with beautiful words of great depth and meaning. I felt compelled to highlight many passages for future reflection. But I wish there would have been more story and less lecturing!
The story that was there was great fun. This time, September goes to the moon, where she finally reconnects with her friends we missed from book two. Together they travel through photographs, quest to find a severed Yeti paw, destroy fate with a hammer, meet past and future versions of themselves, learn what happened to the missing Fairies of Fairy Land, and many other fantastical adventures that make no sense when you try to write about them afterwards--but make perfect sense when you read about them in the book! There is a cliffhanger ending this time, which is never a good thing for me when the next book in the series hasn’t been written yet.
Honestly though, as much as I’ve enjoyed these stories, I think I’m ready for a break from the quaint and eccentric oddities of Septembers adventures in Fairy Land. I think I’ll be ready to go back again soon though—hopefully right about the time book four is published!