Blog Tour Review: The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour Review: The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. ValenteThe Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente
Series: Fairyland #4
Published by Feiwel & Friends on March 3, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

When a young troll named Hawthorn is stolen from Fairyland by the Golden Wind, he becomes a changeling – a human boy -- in the strange city of Chicago, a place no less bizarre and magical than Fairyland when seen through trollish eyes. Left with a human family, Hawthorn struggles with his troll nature and his changeling fate. But when he turns twelve, he stumbles upon a way back home, to a Fairyland much changed from the one he remembers. Hawthorn finds himself at the center of a changeling revolution--until he comes face to face with a beautiful young Scientiste with very big, very red assistant.

Time magazine has praised Catherynne M. Valente's Fairyland books as "one of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century." In this fourth installment of her saga, Valente 's wisdom and wit will charm readers of all ages.

I’m thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for The Boy Who Lost Fairyland. Catherynne M. Valente’s series is one I believe is destined to become a classic in years to come.  The Fairyland series references beautifully the classics that came before, most notable Alice in Wonderland, but has a magic all its own. It is by turns absurd, incredibly deep, and deeply silly. The Boy Who Lost Fairyland is, in some ways, a departure from the previous books, but ultimately proves a wonderful addition to the series.

For the dedicated Fairyland reader, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland is a bit of a startling departure. Aside from our dear narrator, the cast is entirely new for most of the book. That is not to say that the cast is not delightful, but they’re not the dear September and her wyverary who we’ve spent three books coming to care very deeply about. For much of the book, it’s unclear how this story connects to September’s. In fact, the connection of the titular boy’s story to September’s is the purpose of the novel.

The concept is an interesting one. After following September, taken away to Fairyland from the human world, we now travel with a young troll named Hawthorn to the human world. It turns out that these two worlds are driven by Newton’s Third Law, so for every human child taken to Fairyland, a Fairy creature must be sent to the human world. These creatures take the place of the human child.

Hawthorn’s young life with human parents is a rather sad tale, one that can parallel the experience of anyone who feels different. He doesn’t feel like he fits in his own skin for one thing, even though he no longer remembers who or what he was by the time he would be old enough to truly understand it. Worse, he doesn’t understand a lot of common assumptions human society makes and deems common sense, such as:

If you smile, people smile back and usually start liking you. If you scowl, they scowl back and start unliking you. This is true even though smiling means showing your sharp teeth and even though you can smile at the same time as being angry or sad, so I don’t see why people should want you to do it so much, but they do.

Hawthorn, now known as Thomas Rood even to himself, has trouble understanding these things. He believes that every thing should be alive, from the family oven to his pencil. It saddens him that they’re not, but he names them all anyway. For what is seen as an overly active imagination, he is shamed and judged by his parents. The main lesson of his young childhood is that he should hide beneath a facade of normalcy, something I believe most kids can relate to.

Things take a turn for the better when he wins over the kids at school with his unique vision of the world. They’re charmed and amused, showing how much better children are at dealing with imagination and why it’s kids that can travel to Fairyland. They find nothing strange in the idea that a desk might think and one day even talk.

The true beauty in this series for me remains in the magic of the writing and the world building. Valente is a master wordsmith. She balances classical, ornate language with a modern, lively feel so well. This is one of those books where I highlight bunches of quotes, because so much of what she has written is clever wordplay, impossibly brilliant, or both things at once.

Though The Boy Who Lost Fairyland may be my least favorite of the series, it is still impossibly beautiful. Valente’s Fairyland books are not to be missed. They are triumphs of the imagination.

Favorite Quote:

“Everybody’s strange everywhere. Most of the trick of being a social animal is pretending you’re not. But who do you fool? Nobody worth talking to.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif wombat
For my favorite character, Blunderbuss the knitted wombat.

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