In this third book in a planned five book series, September returns to Fairyland and is reunited with her two dearest friends, the Wyverary, A-L, and the Marid, Saturday. She is older now, and perhaps wiser (perhaps not). Either way, she maintains her same indomitable spirit. Though she has brought her hard-earned treasure to pay her way, her worth must be weighed instead, and so she steps up onto the brass plates of the till in Mercator, and her value is announced,
"You have been accepted into the Treasury as a Contracted Villain with all the rights, privileges, and dashing uniforms due. Please take your receipt."
The tray of the register opened with a loud chime. September had to stand on her tiptoes to see over the edge. Inside was a long scroll with her name written in little calligraphy and Charles Crunchcrab [the King] writing in large calligraphy. Underneath, several words glowed with scarlet finality:
and criminal of the realm.A goodly number of illuminated ravens and rats and wolves and raccoons danced in gold and silver ink in the margins. Beneath her writ lay a suit of black silks, trousers and shirt and scarf and shoes that had never dreamed of squeaking, the very best any Criminal could ask for.
If her journey into Fairyland requires her to be a criminal and travel to the moon in an old jalopy named Aroostook, so be it. September will accept her status and her mission: deliver a box to the Whelk of the Moon.
That Cat Valente is a deep thinker on many subjects (love, loss and worth, to name a few) is apparent in this rich and complex series, filled with artful prose and magic of the most capricious sort. It is hard not to stop and ponder as the denizens of Fairyland spout deeply held opinions on such topics as
"All money is imaginary," answered the Calcatrix simply. "Money is magic everyone agrees to pretend is not magic. Observe! You treat it like magic, wield it like magic, fear it like magic! Why should a body with more small circles of copper or silver or gold than anyone else have an easy life full of treats every day and sleeping in and other people bowing down? The little circles can't get up and fight a battle or make a supper so splendid you get full just by looking at it or build a house of a thousand gables. They can do those things because everyone agrees to give them power. If everyone agreed to stop giving power to pretty metals and starred giving it to thumbnails or mushroom caps or roof shingles or first kisses or tears or hours or puffin feathers, those little circles would just lay there tarnishing in the rain and not making anyone bow their noses down to the ground or stick them up in the air. Right now, for example, as much as I admire your collection, your coins aren't coins. They're junk."
"Marriage is a wrestling match where you hold on tight while your mate changes into a hundred different things. The trick is that you're changing into a hundred other things, but you can't let go. You can only try to match up and never turn into a wolf while he's a rabbit, or a mouse while he's still busy being an owl, a brawny black bull while he's a little blue crab scuttling for shelter. It's harder than it sounds."
The Fairyland series is for dreamers and thinkers, and lovers and revolutionaries. There is no room for timidity in Fairyland. Go forth boldly and revel there.
Advance Reader Copy supplied by publisher at my request.
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