I enjoyed Alice in Wonderland, Spirited Away (anything from Studio Ghibli), The Neverending Story, the tales of H.C. Andersen and so much more. But I struggled through The Girl Who Circumnavigated and had to force myself to finish it. Verdict: I don't care. I do not care about September nor Fairyland. I didn't sign up for a collection of short-stories written in pretentious prose. Note that I'm devoid of poetic soul and I can't really enjoy poetry in general.
"The Switchpoint, for that's what Ell called it, made a kissing face at them. All around them well-kept lawns wound down to the lapping Barleybroom, full of gentle little paths and sedate violets nodding pleasantly. A sundial spun its shadow slowly around clusters of yellow peonies."
"September woke to the sound of the snow falling."
Why do simple when long-winded and stilted prose will do the trick and in addition fills plenty of pages. Anyone need a crash course in design and costume?
"Bright storefronts ran on ahead of them, built with violet crinoline and crimson organdy. Towers wound up in wobbly twists of stiff, shining brocade. Memorial statues wore felt helmets over bombazine faces. High, thin, fuzzy houses puffed out angora doors; fancy taffeta offices glimmered under the gaze of black-lace gargoyles. Even the broad avenue they stood on was a mass of ropy, pumpkin-colored grosgrain."
At this point I'm having a headache and I'm skimming. The author's prose poetry purposefully kept me from being engrossed in the story.
Honestly The Girl Who Circumnavigated brings nothing new. It is in fact highly derivative even when it pretends not to. A fairytale involving talking animals, flying or sentient furniture and anything else were you apply human attributes to objects, elements and animals (aka anthropomorphism)? Sounds familiar. Now the idea is there but the execution is poor.
Plot and character depth was definitely not the priority. No, nice writing alone won't save your book.
- What about characters. Do you give them any substance?
* Oh please no, we do not participate to that. Character depth, what a nonsense! Nobody wants to connect with a personage or be engrossed in the story. No, we have excellent writing skills that's more than enough. Yes yes, we do like poetry.
- What about the plot?
* The plot is detail. After all you don't need a plot to write a good book. We will confuse charm our readers with convoluted prose and poetical descriptions. At the very least they can use our books as a tool to expand their English vocabulary. *condescending laugh*
Despite the short rant, I must say to a certain extent I do like books along the line of The Girl Who Circumnavigated. But in this case, it didn't work for me. I like my books with at least an illusion of a plot and characters with substance.
Also I'm a bit sceptic if the book was intended in the first place for children. Just the way how the narrator addresses the reader... just saying. Maybe, just maybe, the book was meant as sort of a guilty pleasure for adults.