Catherynne M. Valente


The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland–for a Little While (2011), The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (2011)

Deathless (2011)

Anthologies: By Blood We Live (2009), Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales (2009), Teeth: Vampire Tales (2011), Magic City: Recent Spells (2014), Street Magicks (2016) 

The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland–for a Little While

Mallow is content to live with her cast iron ducks doing the occasional magic for those in need, but mostly she prefers to be left alone.

But then the King of Fairy calls a for a Foul in the capital of Pandemonium and requires are Fair Folks to attend, so off she goes, hoping perhaps to learn some Wet Magic while she’s there.

I’ve had The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making on my wishlist for awhile now, so I thought this short story would be a nice introduction to Catherynne M. Valente’s money. It was, and it’s time for me to read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Published by Tor
Rating: 8/10

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (2011)

This started coming up as recommended for me pretty much as soon as it was published. But it was hardback, and a hardback price even for the Kindle, and it seemed straight-up fantasy, which I just haven’t been in the mood for, so I added it to my wish list and kept checking on it.

In March, I read the short story/novella The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland–for a Little While and quite enjoyed it. But then I read Deathless and didn’t like it at all. But, when I saw that the paperback version of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making was out in paperback–and the Kindle price had dropped to the paperback price, I decided to try it.

I’m glad I did.

First, unlike Deathless, this is a kids/young adult book. So no boinking. Second, there were all kinds of references to all kinds of fairy tales and stories. I loved all the references. Third, it’s simply a good book. Fun and enjoyable.

And very, very good.

“When you are born,” the golem said softly, “your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you’re half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it’s so grunged up with living.

So. Wow. Yeah.

…though you can have grief without adventures, you cannot have adventures without grief.

It’s so fascinating to see it put so simply, because it’s true. To be true to yourself and truly live your life, bad things are going to happen. It’s just the way things are.

Apparently, there are people who are complaining that this book is too “hard” for kids. There are quite obviously people who have absolutely no memory of being kids themselves.

But there are plenty of things for adults to get as well.

All children are heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb tall trees and say shocking things and leap so very high that grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one.

I highly recommend The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, for children and adults.

Published by Square Fish
Rating: 8.5/10

Deathless (2011)

DeathlessI should have loved this–I love folklore and so was familiar with Koschei the Deathless, and was eager to read a tale staring him. And the hero of the story is the young Marya Morevna who has seen birds turn into her sister’s husbands, and so expects magical adventures to happen to her.

But… I made it more than halfway through before I gave up and skipped to the end.

It’s not that there weren’t things to like.

Zemlehyed looked more or less like what you would get if a particularly stunted and ugly oak tree had fallen passionately in love with a boulder and produced, at great cost to both, a single child.

What’s not to like there?

But the story was set in Stalinist Russia, and the fairy creatures have taken communism to heart just as the populace has. And as much as Koschei and Marya love each other, only bad things happen.

And I just didn’t want to read about bad things.

Published by Tor




By Blood We Live (2009) edited by John Joseph Adams

Snow, Glass, Apples - Neil Gaiman
The Master of Rampling Gate - Anne Rice
Under St. Peter’s - Harry Turtledove
Child of an Ancient City - Tad Williams
Lifeblood - Michael A. Burstein
Endless Night - Barbara Roden
Infestation - Garth Nix
Life is the Teacher - Carrie Vaughn
The Vechi Barbat - Nancy Kilpatrick
The Beautiful, The Damned - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Pinecones - David Wellington
Do Not Hasten to Bid Me Adieu - Norman Partridge
Foxtrot at High Noon - Sergei Lukyanenko
This is Now - Michael Marshall Smith
Blood Gothic - Nancy Holder
Mama Gone - Jane Yolen
Abraham’s Boys - Joe Hill
Nunc Dimittis - Tanith Lee
Hunger - Gabriela Lee
Ode to Edvard Munch - Caitlín R. Kiernan
Finders Keepers - L.A. Banks
After the Stone Age - Brian Stableford
Much at Stake - Kevin J. Anderson
House of the Rising Sun - Elizabeth Bear
A Standup Dame - Lilith Saintcrow
Twilight - Kelley Armstrong
In Darkness, Angels - Eric Van Lustbader
Sunrise on Running Water - Barbara Hambly
Hit - Bruce McAllister
Undead Again - Ken MacLeod
Peking Man - Robert J. Sawyer
Necros - Brian Lumley
Exsanguinations - Catherynne M. Valente
Lucy in Her Splendor - Charles Coleman Finlay
The Wide, Carnivorous Sky - John Langan
One for the Road - Stephen King

Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales (2009) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

"Wizard’s Apprentice" by Delia Sherman
"An Unwelcome Guest" by Garth Nix
"Faery Tales" by Wendy Froud
"Rags and Riches" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
"Up the Down Beanstalk: A Wife Remembers" by Peter S. Beagle
"The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces" by Ellen Kushner
"Puss in Boots, the Sequel" by Joseph Stanton
"The Boy Who Cried Wolf" by Holly Black
"Troll" by Jane Yolen
"Castle Othello" by Nancy Farmer
"‘Skin" by Michael Cadnum
"A Delicate Architecture" by Catherynne M. Valente
"Molly" by Midori Snyder
"Observing the Formalities" by Neil Gaiman
"The Cinderella Game" by Kelly Link

Published by Viking Books for Young Readers

Teeth: Vampire Tales (2011) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

This is an Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling anthology, so as always, there are fascinating bits of folklore.

Rice, not garlic, was the most effective means of keeping Chinese vampires at bay, for they had a strange compulsion to count. Throwing rice at the ghost compelled it to stop; it would not move again until each grain was counted.


“In the Future When All’s Well” by Catherynne M. Valente tells of a future time when suddenly, for reasons no one can figure out, people are turning into vampires. Especially teenagers.


As expected, this was a very good anthology, and although I didn’t like the horror or the poetry, that’s a failing of mine, not the anthology.

Published by Harper Collins
Rating: 8/10

Magic City: Recent Spells (2014) edited by Paula Guran


Table of Contents
“Street Wizard” by Simon R. Green
“Paranormal Romance” by Christopher Barzak
“Grand Central Park” by Delia Sherman
“Spellcaster 2.0” by Jonathan Maberry
“Wallamelon” by Nisi Shawl
“-30-” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
“Seeing Eye” by Patricia Briggs
“Stone Man” by Nancy Kress
“In the Stacks” by Scott Lynch
“A Voice Like a Hole” by Catherynne M. Valente
“The Arcane Art of Misdirection” by Carrie Vaughn
“Thief of Precious Things” by A.C. Wise
“The Land of Heart’s Desire” by Holly Black
“Snake Charmer” by Amanda Downum
“The Slaughtered Lamb” by Elizabeth Bear
“The Woman Who Walked with Dogs” by Mary Rosenblum
“Words” by Angela Slatter
“Dog Boys” by Charles de Lint
“Alchemy” by Lucy Sussex
“Curses” by Jim Butcher
“De la Tierra” by Emma Bull
“Stray Magic” by Diana Peterfreund
“Kabu Kabu” by Nnedi Okorafor
“Pearlywhite” by Mark Laidlaw & John Shirley


“A Voice Like a Hole” by Catherynne M. Valente was another story about lost and abandoned children. I found it very sad.


All in all this is a marvelous collection, that I highly recommend.

Published by Prime Books
Rating: 8.5/10

Street Magicks (2016) edited by Paula Guran

Street MagicksI believe it took me less than a year to finish this anthology. Hopefully this is a new trend for me.

“Freewheeling” by Charles de Lint
“A Year and a Day in Old Theradane” by Scott Lynch
“Caligo Lane” by Ellen Klages
“Socks” by Delia Sherman
“Painted Birds and Shivered Bones” by Kat Howard
“The Goldfish Pond and Other Stories” by Neil Gaiman
“One-Eyed Jack and the Suicide King” by Elizabeth Bear
“Street Worm” by Nisi Shawl
“A Water Matter” by Jay Lake
“Last Call” by Jim Butcher
“Bridle” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
“The Last Triangle” by Jeffrey Ford
“Working for the God of the Love of Money” by Kaaron Warren
“Hello, Moto” by Nnedi Okorafor
“The Spirit of the Thing: A Nightside Story” by Simon R. Green
“A Night in Electric Squidland” by Sarah Monette
“Speechless in Seattle” by Lisa Silverthorne
“Palimpsest” by Catherynne M. Valente
“Ash” by John Shirley
“In Our Block” by R. A. Lafferty


“Palimpsest” by Catherynne M. Valente started and then realized that I generally dislike her short stories, so skipped.


An interesting collection, although there were a lot of stories that were not for me.

Published by Prime Books
Rating: 7/10