A Troll in Chicago


The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, by Catherynne M. Valente – This is the fourth book in the Fairyland series, and the first to focus on a new protagonist, although the old one does appear. The story involves the concept of changelings, in which a fairy child is exchanged for a human one. Here, the changeling in question is a troll named Hawthorn, who is torn away from his life to a mundane human existence in Chicago, with no memory of his previous home. Eventually he manages to return to Fairyland in the company of his best friend Tamburlaine, who is also a changeling, a wooden Fetch. Along with Hawthorn’s stuffed wombat and Tamburlaine’s live gramophone, they meet up with September and her friends, as well as King Charlie Crunchcrab, a walrus shoemaker, and the boy for whom Hawthorn was exchanged. The ending has a dodo egg restoring certain things, resulting in the human boy returning to Chicago, but there’s still quite a bit of mystery involved that the sequel will hopefully clear up. As usual, Fairyland is a fun place to visit, sort of a mix of multiple established fantasy lands with plenty of new ideas, full of puns and eccentric characters. What really struck me in this book, however, was Valente’s description of Hawthorn growing up in the mundane world, and his parents dealing with his being different from the other kids. She writes, “Thomas [Hawthorn’s human identity] did not have any clear idea what Normal meant, except that it was something Gwendolyn and Nicholas were, and Mysterious Unnamed Other Children also were, and possibly Grocers and Teachers and Street Sweepers as well, but that Thomas was not.” I’ve certainly had the experience of feeling I don’t fit in and not being sure why, although in my case I don’t THINK it’s because I’m a changeling.

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2 Responses to A Troll in Chicago

  1. Pingback: Changing the Baby | VoVatia

  2. Pingback: It’s Just a Fantasy | VoVatia

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