It’s been a few days since I finished this Fairyland book, so this could be a very short one today, because I really just want to talk about the impression that this book has left on me, rather than the story itself. Which was, as per usual, a whimsical, heart-wrenching, and marvellous story.
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, to me, was a story about growing up. September is fourteen in this instalment. Remember being fourteen? A very weird time that never feels weird at the time until you look back and reminisce when you’re a little bit older. So September is dealing with all of her fourteen-ness when she goes back to Fairyland to find that Saturday has grown up too. He’s coming into himself and he’s simultaneously more Saturday and less Saturday all at once. Valente has explored what it’s like when your friends grow up without you. Like, when I left my primary school to go to a different high school to my friends, I’d come back for birthday parties and things and find that all of the friends I knew so well had changed in very subtle ways that made them more like themselves but also like strangers. Valente totally nailed this.
But she also, as always, took this to another level. Saturday, as a Marid, constantly runs into different versions of himself from different times. In this book, he runs into his adult self and doesn’t like what he sees. Here, have a quote:
“You see him and you think me and I knew if you saw him first you would be afraid because it is frightening! I am frightened! I have to turn into him! He’s already been all the Saturdays it takes to be that Saturday, but whatever happened is still coming for me, I still have to stand up for the hurts and the grief that made him and I can’t not do it, but knowing I will is like looking at a hot stove and knowing you’re going to touch it, knowing you’re going to burn, and feeling the blisters and the peeling before even you reach out your hand. I have to feel it now, all the time, and I don’t even know what the stove is.”
He doesn’t like it, but he understands it. Something, or a lot of somethings, must have happened for Saturday to turn into the adult that he sees throughout this story. The scary thing for him is not knowing what those things are and being unable to stop those things from happening.
No one really knows how they’re going to grow up because we live our lives in a straight line. So we always know what’s happened to make us how we are at any given moment. But seeing a future you and not knowing what’s making you act in a certain way? That would be terrifying.
See what I mean, when I said this would be short? I feel like this impression of the story is kind of more important than what I thought of the plot and the characters and the language (which were all, as usual, exquisite; Valente is a magician with words). I will say that Valente is a genius with misdirection. She can make characters seem one way and then reveal a detail, or a story, about them and make us see them in a new way. A lot of authors do this, but not a lot of authors do this well. Valente does.
I’m going to leave it here. But the only take away you really need is this: Read this series.