The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Catherynne Valente


Goodreads: The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home
Series: Fairyland #5
Source: Library
Published: 2016


A Dodo’s egg has restored what was lost to Fairyland, meaning all the dead rulers have retuned to claim the crown for their own!  To prevent them all from slaughtering each other (at least immediately) the Cantakerous Derby is called.  Whoever finds the heart of Fairyland first and reaches the finish line wins–but what is the heart?  And where is the finish line?


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a magical tale, mostly whimsical, sometimes quirky, just a bit romantic.  It feels original and it feels alive–a difficult feat in a market so full of books.  It seemed only natural that the next few books in the series would not live up that charm.  How could they?  Catherynne Valente seemd so taken with her own complexity and fondness for wordplay that she tangled herself up trying to replicate it.

The final book in the Fairyland series, however, comes very close to recapturing the original magic.  The premise itself is so outrageous it seems that it must succeed.  All the dead rulers of Fairyland resurrected and ready to fight for the Crown?  Let the drama begin!  But despite the huge cast of characters, Valente never loses sight of our protagonist September and her dearest friends.  She takes us along with them for a final whirlwind tour of Fairyland and all its oddities.  It is a fitting farewell.

Admittedly at times, Valente still seems trapped by her own word weaving.  For pages the text will go on, trying to highlight for readers just how eccentric and strange this world can be.  Do you get it? the text asks.  Do you understand how weird and wonderful this is?  Do you see my wordplay?  Do you get it?  Do you get it?  It gets old fast and I regret that I often found myself skipping passages that were unable to contain their descriptive excess.  A little editing would have done much.

But aside from this, the story works very well.  We see new places and visit old ones.  Former characters readers have come to love make their final appearances.  The hint of romance, developed from the start, starts blooming into something a little more.  Our dear September has grown up and she is wise and weary and just a little annoyed that no one takes a seventeen-year-old girl very seriously, no matter how much she has seen and done.  It feels right that we should say good-bye.  It is time to let her fly.

So is it worth it?  If you’ve kept up with the Fairyland series, you won’t regret finishing.  Valente sometimes seems unsure how to end her books, but this one feels complete.  Perhaps not all readers will be satisfied by the ending, but this is Fairyland, after all, and endings there are always bittersweet.

Krysta 644 stars

10 thoughts on “The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Catherynne Valente

  1. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    Great review, Krysta! I struggle with authors who get lost in their words too. (I’m looking at you, Robert Jordan, and your endless descriptions of women’s clothing. I get you did your research!) I just picked up a copy of book one, so I also appreciate that you encourage people to finish the series. I can’t wait to get started!


  2. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    Good review! I also thought this book was a solid conclusion that came fairly close to the flavour of the first book. I was surprised to find myself wishing we saw more of Hawthorn and Tam.


    • Krysta says:

      Yes! I was a little surprised when book four didn’t follow September, but by the final book those characters did seem very much like co-protagonists we should have spent more time with.


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