When I heard there was going to be a second Fairyland book, I was excited. I wasn’t worried about it being bad or suffering from the usual sophomore slump. I wanted to see more of September and her journeys, and I trusted Valente to do it well. And I was right! Despite one very minor nitpick (which frankly comes down to personal taste rather than an actual, possible flaw in the writing) I loved this book as much as I did the first one. September’s character growth is nicely done and fully believable. She’s matured, and I loved that we see her growing up. Her growth felt authentic and as a natural extension of her development in the first book. What we see here makes me excited to read any future books featuring September, because I want to see how she continues to grow and navigate the worlds around her. The other characters are just as strong, and I did enjoy her new dynamics with the old characters. I especially loved a new character that joins the main cast, a little Night Dodo named Aubergine. I sincerely hope she’s in any future books, because she was my favourite by far. The expansion of Fairyland and the exploration of Fairyland-Below is wonderfully done. The new people we’re introduced to are well done and crafted. The book is a bit darker and more melancholic, which fits the setting of Fairyland-Below quite well. As happy and fun as it all seems, with Revels every night and everyone using as much magic as they want without a care, once you actually stop to think about it, it gets incredibly sad. Following that, I do like how Valente gives us no easy answers when it comes to the shadows. Do they deserve to live? They’re technically their own people now, even if they did start out as being a part of someone’s self. But without them, Fairyland and its inhabitants could fade away into normality. The answers to these questions and the eventual conclusion were satisfying, and I enjoyed how hard the journey was in the mean time. There’s a sad lack of YA and MG books that are willing to really be tough on their characters and give them no easy ways out, so to come across a book that does it so well is refreshing. The pacing might be a little slow for some readers, but it’s a good kind of slow. It allows us to really explore the people September’s meeting and the places she’s going through. It’s a kind of slow that makes you want to savor every word and chapter you read as much as you can before going on to the next. This is a book to read slowly and really take it in, and it’s done well. If there was one quibble I had with the book, it was that it does suffer from being a little repetitive at times and, like in the first one, I felt it dragged near the end before everything got going for the conclusion. As I said, though, this likely comes down to personal taste. I still really loved this overall, and I’ll be eagerly waiting for anything else Valente gives us of September’s journey.