Title: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Release date: January 9, 2018
And so it was, Steve arrived at book three in the fantastic Wayward Children series, unsure of what to expect. Where book one and two were fantastic, he’d heard rumblings that book three takes a turn into the land of Nonsense. Steve, our reader, writing this review in third person apparently like some sort of giant knob, was a touch leery. Why you may ask, kind reader of this review?
Steve had heard it described as McGuire’s take on ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and while this may shock some of you (please do sit down if you’re standing), he’s not overly fond of that story. It may be that the nonsensical portion of the story creates chaos in his rational loving brain (which is why he often struggles with reading Bizarro fiction).
Anyways, enough of that – and the third person ridiculousness! – I dove in, wondering how I’d fair.
What I liked: The story picks up on a day a girl drops into the lake before Cora and Nadya. This new girl, naked and sharing a story that makes Cora and Nadya know they need to help, is Rini. It turns out that Rini is the daughter of Sumi, a previous student and character in the series and they must find a way to turn back the clock so that Sumi is alive in Rini’s world so that Rini will exist.
Armed with that knowledge, Kade and Christopher get involved and off they go, desperately searching for Sumi’s soul.
It’s an interesting story, one that creates the potential for ripples to effect them elsewhere due to the time travel aspect that occurs, as well as various characters coming and going.
McGuire always is a master at creating a lot with a little. On the other end of the spectrum than say, George R.R. Martin, when it comes to descriptions of places and food, Seanan still paints a vast picture, even with the scantest of details. It allows the story to hum along and the characters to cover a lot of ground.
I really enjoyed the ‘real’ narratives throughout, especially Cora’s fight with people perceiving her as a ‘fat girl’ when really she is very athletic and is fighting a metabolism that doesn’t work as well as it should. McGuire philosophizes throughout and it works within the nature of these characters.
What I didn’t like: As mentioned, I’m not a fan of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and when they go to Rini’s world, we’re transported to a world that is very much that, with it even featuring the Queen of Cakes. I didn’t mind the setting but when it is set in a world with no normal rules, it just made for an odd reading experience at times for me.
Why you should buy this: Three books into this series and it’s obvious McGuire is creating a modern classic portal fantasy series. The characters are all really well done and the settings are vibrant and incredibly intriguing. And come on, I think this series may have the most gorgeous covers ever created.
‘Beneath the Sugar Sky’ may not have been my favorite of the three so far, but I still really enjoyed it and look forward to seeing what the next chapter, and world, this series brings.