The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, by Catherynne M. Valente (Feiwel & Friends, October 2012, ages 10 and up), that young September's second visit to Fairyland is all fun and parties. It's not. Yes, there are revels...but this journey is a rather serious quest through Fairyland Below--one with Consequences.
In September's first adventure (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making), she parted with her shadow. And her shadow went down below, and became ruler of a land of wild revels, drawing ever more shadows down to her kingdom, and, in so doing, fatally weakening the magic of the land above. So September decides to set things right (feeling somewhat responsible) and sets of to wake the missing prince of Fairyland below, and somehow bring the shadows back up above, to restore the missing magic. In her travels, September meets the shadows of old friends, encounters many strange and
magical beings (including lovey new friends, like the Night Dodo), and is sorely tested...but, being stubborn and
determined, she never gives up.
Like the first book, this is a somewhat episodic story, but here, because September (and the reader) know what's at stake pretty early on, it's a more clearly focused journey (which I appreciated). The rich panoply of images and descriptions, and the unforgettable persons and places, full of marvellous detail, still comprise the bulk of the story telling, but the more serious focus, and September's greater self-awareness, make this one richer and deeper.
I enjoyed it very much (despite the fact that the Intrusive Narrator claimed to be my friend at one point, which I thought was presumptuous).
Note on age: although this is one that is just fine for all ages, 13 year old September is very much the upper-middle-school-aged archetype--she does get her first kiss, but the YA themes of romance and separation aren't here. Instead, it's a book about finding oneself in the context of friends and family (while having fantastical adventures).
Disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher