This is the prequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, a novel that liked but didn't like that much. In a previous review, I mentioned that the best character by far was Mallow-slash-Marquess – a girl who suffered greatly but found comfort and joy in Fairyland.
Mallow's story is at least more compelling than that of the protagonist, whose name already escapes me at the moment. I really don't care that much about her. Sorry.
It would have been better to have read more about Mallow's life as Maud, though – before she found Fairyland. I honestly believe Valente has a very good premise on her hands; Fairyland is nothing but lies. It's all fairy dust meant to make things look wonderful to the kids they draw in. Mallow is a very good example of just what happens when the child runs out of time in this blasted playground of deception.
It's going to be a lot darker, but isn't the probability of a beautiful story worth the trouble of wading through difficult topics and themes?
Valente could draw more out of this Fairyland she has imagined. If only we could get a bit more of brutal honesty rather than fairy dust out of her stories.