Across the Green Grass Fields (Wayward Children #6) by Seanan McGuire | ARC Review

Goodreads | Amazon US | B&N | Book Depository | IndieBound | Bookshop

ARC provided by Tor.com (thank you)
Publication: January 12th, 2021 by Tor.com

1.) Every Heart a Doorway ★★★★★
2.) Down Among the Sticks and Bones ★★★★★
3.) Beneath the Sugar Sky ★★★★
4.) In an Absent Dream ★★★★★
5.) Come Tumbling Down ★★★

“She knew better now. The world was bigger now. She was bigger now, and that made all the difference.”

In this story, we get to grow up alongside Regan Lewis! We are introduced to Regan at seven years old, where she is quickly already learning the expectations that society puts on girls, especially girls who are different. Regan comes from a good family, who love and care about her, and she has a big space in her heart for horses! She also has two best friends, and they do everything together! That is, until she really learns the consequences of what it means to be different, and what happens to girls who don’t play by the rules that society place on them.

“They thought children, especially girl children, were all sugar and lace, and that when those children fought, they would do so cleanly and in the open, where adult observers could intervene.”

We get to see Regan at 11, becoming worried that her body isn’t developing the way other girls’ bodies are. She doesn’t need to wear a bra yet, she doesn’t need deodorant yet, and she hasn’t started her period yet. And once the pressure gets too great to bear, she asks her parents who (very kindly, knowledgeably, and empathetically) explain to her that her body hasn’t started developing these things (or maybe won’t start developing these things on their own without some help) because she is intersex.

This book really made me realize how much I am slacking as a reader and reviewer with reading books with intersex main characters. Off the top of my head, I can think of only two others, and that makes me feel very bad and I hope to change that soon. But, regardless of chromosomes or androgen insensitivity, Regan is a girl and has always been a girl. And I really loved how her parents constantly reminded her that she was exactly as she was meant to be. Truly, I had so many happy tears over her parents, truly a tier above.

Regan is still very unsure of herself and this new information, and after confiding in someone who she probably should not have, and after they say some incredibly hurtful things to her, she runs away into the woods to try to get home, yet a magical door appears and she steps into a world filled with horses, and kelpies, and centaurs, and unicorns!

I loved this world, like, I loved this world so much. Also, I have never been and will never be a horse girl, and this hooved world was still everything to me. And once Regan is discovered in this world by a pack of centaurs who herd unicorns, we find out about a prophecy that states all humans must be given to the queen, because whenever a human shows up in this magical land that means that something bad is about to happen! But it is not stated anywhere when the human must be given to the queen, therefore Regan gets to spend a lot of time with her centaur family.

The heart of this book is about destiny, and what it means to be destined for something. Whether it’s about your gender, your childhood, your family, or even maybe saving a whole magical world filled with horse-like creatures! All these expectations can be so very heavy, but they do become lighter when you have a found family to help with them. They also become pretty light when you are able to realize that you and your journey and your life are worth so much more than the expectations placed on you from society, from friends, and from any kind of destiny that you did not ask for.

“She still didn’t believe in destiny. Clay shaped into a cup was not always destined to become a drinking vessel’ it was simply shaped by someone too large to be resisted. She was not clay, but she had been shaped by her circumstances all the same, not directed by any destiny.”

This entire story has a really beautiful message about found family, and finding your people, and how unconditional love is all about unapologetically choosing the people you love over and over again. Blood will only ever be blood, but choosing the people who are your home is another level of love. We also get to see Regan at 15, when it is time for her to fulfill her destiny after spending four years being unconditionally loved. Side note: I would die for Gristle and Zephyr.

The reason I am giving this four stars is because I didn’t love the end of this one. I truly enjoyed the reveal, and the symbolism about destiny was not lost on me, but I just truly wanted a more concrete ending. I am scared to wish for another book in this world, since I didn’t love the revisit to the Moors, but (without going into spoiler territory here) I just really wanted to see things that I didn’t get to see! Also, in part one, I feel like this author may not spend a lot of time with children in 2020, but that is a very minor critique that I have.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one and I truly felt so much happiness flipping these pages. I love seeing all the different ways you can belong in the Wayward Children series, and I think these stories contain a lot of hope, and healing, and light. And, how I close off every review of each book in this series, I’m going to keep praying that we get Kade’s story next.

Trigger and Content Warnings: blood descriptions, bullying, intersexphobia, abduction, and brief captivity.

4
Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin’ | Ko-fi | Twitch | Wishlist | Youtube

 

Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children #5) by Seanan McGuire

Goodreads | Amazon US | B&N | Book Depository 

ARC provided by Tor

1.) Every Heart a Doorway ★★★★★
2.) Down Among the Sticks and Bones ★★★★★
3.) Beneath the Sugar Sky ★★★★
4.) In an Absent Dream ★★★★★

“Hope is a vicious beast. It sinks in its claws and it doesn’t let go.”

I’ll be honest, I am still so extremely surprised to be giving a Wayward Children book less than five stars. I had the highest of hopes for this installment, because Jack and Jill’s story in Down Among the Sticks and Bones meant so very much to me. Sadly, this just left like a very unnecessary addition to their story, that lacked the depth, empathy, and happiness from before.

This book does pick up with Jack and Jill and their new life in the Moors, but this time Jill has managed to switch bodies with Jack and I’ll be honest, this was not a plot twist I expected nor wanted. But basically, Jill wants to become a vampire more than anything, and she needed a body that would be capable of becoming one. And Jack and Alexis think they need the help of their old friends to switch back their bodies before it is too late! (Even though, Jack very much takes care of everything in hindsight.)

I think what I love about this series is seeing these kids find their portal worlds, miss their portal worlds, return to their portal worlds, while discovering everything alongside them. I also really like being blown away by a discussion that is beautifully woven into the story seamlessly. Like the importance of surrounding yourself with people who love and accept you, gender roles and societies expectations of those roles, loving your body and the journey it can take to get there, and the value of fair trade! But this installment just felt like the message was just about friendship and how you can help each other and be there for people, and it truly felt very surface level for me.

This novella, like the whole series, is diverse. This story has characters of color, trans rep, fat rep, ocd rep, anxiety rep, disability rep, and a queer main relationship. Jack and Alexis really are great, but again, the body changing with her sister stuff had me a little uncomfortable, I won’t lie. The writing is also very beautiful, and what I’ve come to expect every time I pick up a Seanan McGuire story. But sadly, these two aspects were the only things I really loved from Come Tumbling Down.

I also feel like maybe another thing that hurt this story was that we focused on so many characters, leading up to a quest that was very messily done because this is a novella and it felt rushed in finishing it. Also, if you’re going to make the main plot point be about one of the main characters being willing to do unthinkable things to become a vampire, I’d really like to see some vampires before the very end of the story. I truly just felt so very let down by the Moors setting in this story, it’s actually unreal. And I truly believe this added nothing new to the series.

Overall, I’m just disappointed. This is truly one of my favorite series of all time, and now I’m going to go into Across the Green Grass Fields very cautiously with a lot less high hopes. Also, please for the love of god, I just want Kade’s story so badly. Please don’t give me another revisit that feels like a lesser version of the original in every single way.

3
Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin’ | Ko-fi | Twitch | Wishlist | Youtube

Trigger and Content Warnings:
death, murder, blood depiction, panic attacks, and talk of cancer (in the past).

 

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) by Seanan McGuire

Goodreads | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review.

1.) Every Heart a Doorway ★★★★★
2.) Down Among the Sticks and Bones ★★★★★
3.) Beneath the Sugar Sky ★★★★

“Death wasn’t fair value for anything…”

In An Absent Dream stars Katherine Lundy, the therapist who leads the group sessions in Every Heart a Doorway. She is Eleanor’s second in command, and claims to be eighty-years-old, despite only looking around eight. And this is her story, about her time in her world, the goblin market. And, friends, this might be my favorite book in the entire series so far.

“She had been able to find a doorway and disappear into an adventure, instead of living in a world that told her, day after day after grinding, demoralizing day, that adventures were only for boys; that girls had better things to worry about, like making sure those same boys had a safe harbor to come home to.”

Lundy is only six years old when she realizes that her entire life is going to be planned for her. She is going to be quiet, and studious, and keep to herself, and maybe one day she will be a librarian (because she loves books), and then become a wife and a mother. I mean, this is the dream, right? It’s for sure her parent’s dream for her. But even at six, Lundy knows this isn’t the life she wants, even if it is the life that is expected of her. And one day, Lundy finds a door, her door, and it completely changes her life.

Rule One – Ask for nothing
Rule Two – Names have power
Rule Three – Always give fair value

And in the goblin market Lundy learns so very much about herself and who she truly wants to become. And Lundy is also able to travel back and forth between the market and home throughout this glimpse into her life. There is a such a beautiful theme of the power of love between siblings, both found and blood, and that thread is carried through for each visit. Lundy, Moon, and Diana each have a piece of my heart that I won’t ever get back, and I’m a better person because of it. Friends, I loved this. It’s a magical masterpiece and a perfect addition to this series that Seanan has given book lovers everywhere. I know the release date isn’t until January 8th, 2019, but preorder this now. Trust me.

Each and every book in this series is not only expertly crafted, but also the theme will be hard hitting and impactful. Every Heart a Doorway is about asexuality and realizing how important it is to surround yourself with people who unconditionally love and accept you, all of you, because you’re worthy of it. Down Among the Sticks and Bones is about gender norms and stereotypes that the world horribly puts onto us, and how it’s a horrible cycle that never stops. Beneath the Sugar Sky is about loving yourself and no matter what your body looks like, that it’s perfect; fat, skinny, with scars, with hair, with modifications so that you can be the person that you want to be. And In An Absent Dream is about how we live in a world that has completely lost the meaning of what is fair and what is just and what is right.

Like, the price of peanut butter, something that I buy constantly, is $4.00 at my local supermarket. $4.00 for protein filled goodness that my mouth and the rest of my body loves to consume. But spending $4.00 on something when I have $100 dollars in my purse is a lot different than if I was spending $4.00 if I had $5 in my purse. And this is such an easy to see concept, but so many humans fail to see that tremendous difference. People want to condemn others for being lazy, or uneducated, or whatever else gross thing they want to say when they refuse to check their privileges (that they have mostly received from just simply being born), but the simple matter is that this isn’t fair. Jeff Bezos’ kids walking into Walmart and buying food isn’t the same as an underprivileged kid in Flint, whose family is on a fixed income (and still forced to buy their own bottled water), walking into Walmart to try to buy groceries for their family. But no matter how easy that is to see, I can’t teach people to have empathy. We all need to do better, and we need to change this obviously broken system.

“That’s because you don’t know what fairness means. You’ve been in a place that wasn’t fair for so long that the things we’d been trying to teach you have been driven back into the shadows.”

Just, be good humans, friends. Try to learn, try to do better, try to break these gross cycles that reinforce these gross entitled mindsets. And read Seanan McGuire’s books, which not only are such amazing escapism works of art, but they beautifully shed light on all these important topics that a lot of people wish to keep ignoring. And maybe, just maybe, we will one day live in a world where we don’t need a goblin market to remind us to be fair to other humans. But I hope that world is also filled with more books from this once in a lifetime series.

Instagram | Goodreads | Twitter | Tumblr | Twitch | Bloglovin’ | Wishlist

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Trigger and content warnings loss of a loved one, death, abandonment, and one quick scene with parental physical abuse (slapping of a child).

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3) by Seanan McGuire

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review.

1.) Every Heart a Doorway ★★★★★
2.) Down Among the Sticks and Bones ★★★★★

This is my 100th review of 2017! And I couldn’t have picked a better book! Beneath the Sugar Sky is another amazing installment in the Wayward Children series and it starts out right back at Eleanor West’s magical boarding school. And this book heavily centers around one of my favorite characters from Every Heart a Doorway, Sumi!

“There is kindness in the world, if we know how to look for it. If we never start denying it the door.”

This series is a portal fantasy, that surrounds kids that have traveled to magical lands, but somehow found their way back to our world. For the most part, the kids want to go back to their magical lands, so they reside at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, while waiting and hoping for their door to reappear for them. In this story, we get to see a lot of different portal worlds. And we get to see many beloved and familiar faces, while also learning about some new characters and their different magical worlds.

“Nobody promised me a happy ending. They didn’t even promise me a happy existence.”

(Breathtaking art by the amazing Rovina Cai!)

In Beneath the Sugar Sky we follow five kids on an adventure:
Cora – plus sized, has anxiety, from the Land Beneath the Lake, which is a Mermaid land!
Nadya – missing an arm, from Belyyreka, a Drowned World.
Christopher – Mexican-American, had cancer, from Mariposa, a skeleton Underworld.
Rini – Japanese, from Confection.
Kade – Trans, from a warring Fairyland! (Full disclosure, Kade has been my favorite character since the very first book in this series. His story speaks to the very essence of my heart, and I love everything about him. Kade is one of the best characters in all of literature, and I wish everyone could read about him and his journey, and I just had to emphasize how very important he is to me.)

“It took me years of saving a world that stopped wanting me when I changed my pronouns to figure it out.”

And even though we dabble in many portal worlds, this story mostly takes place in Confection, which is pretty much a real-life version of Candy Land. It’s sugar, it’s sweet, and it’s downright dangerous.

And as you can probably tell from my breakdown above, every book is this series has amazing diversity and representation, and this book is no different. From race, to sexuality, to mental illnesses, to body representation, to physical disabilities, to religious representation, this series has it all. And it’s seamlessly woven and never feels exploitative. And this particular book has the best overweight representation I’ve ever read, or even seen, in my entire life.

“She’d heard that sort of hatred before, always from the women in her Weight Watchers groups, or at Overeaters Anonymous, the ones who had starved themselves into thinness and somehow failed to find the promised land of happy acceptance that they had always been told waited for them on the other side of the scale.”

This book is a masterpiece that I feel so very privileged and blessed to be able to read. This book is the perfect mixture of whimsical and important. This book is about acceptance and love, and how we all are always on a search for it. And I hope you all pick this book up come January of 2018.

This series means so much to me that I feel like I’m at a loss for words. I’ve never read anything like this before, and I can’t sing this series’ praises enough! I love this world, and I recommend these books with my whole heart. Thank you, Seanan McGuire, for writing a once in a lifetime series that means so much to so many! I will cherish this series for my entire life.

And I can’t wait to see what’s next.

“Just keep getting through until you don’t have to do it anymore, however much time that takes, however difficult it is.”

4
Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitch

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.