Author: Seanan McGuire

Review – Mislaid in Parts Half-Known

Posted April 2, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – Mislaid in Parts Half-Known

Mislaid in Parts Half-Known

by Seanan McGuire

Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 146
Series: Wayward Children #9
Rating: three-stars
Synopsis:

Antsy is the latest student to pass through the doors at Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children.

When the school’s (literally irresistible) mean girl realizes that Antsy's talent for finding absolutely anything may extend to doors, Antsy is forced to flee in the company of a small group of friends, looking for a way back to the Shop Where the Lost Things Go to be sure that Vineta and Hudson are keeping their promise.

Along the way, they will travel from a world which hides painful memories that cut as sharply as its beauty, to a land that time wasn’t yet old enough to forget—and more than one student's life will change forever.

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

For a book that promised me dinosaurs, Seanan McGuire’s Mislaid in Parts Half-Known felt like a bit of a swizz. The dinosaur world was only a tiny part of the story, which was really the end of Antsy’s story, as begun in Lost in the Moment and Found. There are bits of other characters’ stories (a little here for Sumi, a little there for Kade, a drop for Cora), but it’s really about Antsy’s story, and a little bit about expanding the world as we know it, showing us what a nexus is and what it can do.

Honestly, it feels like we’ve got a little further from the idea of a school for children who fell into other worlds than I like? The rotating cast of characters feels like “monster of the week”, but we’re spending so little time actually at the school, and Eleanor doesn’t always appear. And I’m deeply ambivalent about Kade’s position here, always the best man and never the groom.

So I’m wondering where our questers will go next, but I also wonder if I’m tiring a bit of the formula?

Rating: 3/5

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Review – Lost in the Moment and Found

Posted March 18, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 1 Comment

Review – Lost in the Moment and Found

Lost in the Moment and Found

by Seanan McGuire

Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 208
Series: Wayward Children #8
Rating: four-stars
Synopsis:

Welcome to the Shop Where the Lost Things Go.

If you ever lost a sock, you’ll find it here.

If you ever wondered about favorite toy from childhood... it’s probably sitting on a shelf in the back.

And the headphones that you swore that this time you’d keep safe? You guessed it….

Antoinette has lost her father. Metaphorically. He’s not in the shop, and she’ll never see him again. But when Antsy finds herself lost (literally, this time), she finds that however many doors open for her, leaving the Shop for good might not be as simple as it sounds.

And stepping through those doors exacts a price.

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Picking up Seanan McGuire’s Lost in the Moment and Found, I wasn’t sure whether I’d love it. On paper, this series has so much that I love, but it goes some dark places at times, and the warning about the situation that Antsy ends up in made me wonder if this was going to be another one which cut too close to home.

For me, it wasn’t, but it’s worth knowing that Antsy ends up in a difficult situation where her step-father convinces her that her mother won’t believe her if she says anything against him, while making her feel deeply uncomfortable (and also involving an obvious threat of child sexual abuse). In addition, Antsy loses her father very young. So it’s important to know that going in, for some people; as McGuire’s initial note says, Antsy runs before the bad things really start happening, though.

There is a fair bit about that and the build-up to why Antsy runs away, and as such I suppose I’d be happy if the book spent a bit more time in the shop. It sounds like a fascinating world and I wanted Antsy to explore it a little more, and to explore some of the other worlds with her. Instead we turn to the price she’s paying for the joy — and as ever, it’s a harsh one.

Obviously, the end of the book tells us where the main plot thread that runs through the odd-numbered novellas is going next, or at least, that Antsy’s going to have something to do with it. Given that she brings a bit of fresh blood into the questing group, that could be interesting!

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Where the Drowned Girls Go

Posted February 19, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Review – Where the Drowned Girls Go

Where the Drowned Girls Go

by Seanan McGuire

Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 208
Series: Wayward Children #7
Synopsis:

"Welcome to the Whitethorn Institute. The first step is always admitting you need help, and you’ve already taken that step by requesting a transfer into our company."

There is another school for children who fall through doors and fall back out again.

It isn't as friendly as Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children.

And it isn't as safe.

When Eleanor West decided to open her school, her sanctuary, her "Home for Wayward Children," she knew from the beginning that there would be children she couldn’t save; when Cora decides she needs a different direction, a different fate, a different prophecy, Miss West reluctantly agrees to transfer her to the other school, where things are run very differently by Whitethorn, the Headmaster.

She will soon discover that not all doors are welcoming...

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Seanan McGuire’s Where the Drowned Girls Go as much as as I did: I haven’t been totally all-in on this series for a few books now, or so it feels, and Cora goes to some pretty dark places in this book. It’s probably important to know going in that there are potential triggers for those with eating disorders, and probably any kind of abuse, especially anything relating to a boarding school.

But all the same, Cora rises above it. She finds the strength to own her experiences, and to finally Be Sure, and that’s a journey I enjoyed. Eleanor West’s school is warm and quirky and endlessly accommodating, but here Cora (and the supporting cast, including Sumi) have a bit more adversity to stand up to, and it’s a stronger book for it. And we get to see Regan, from Across the Green Grass Fields, tying her into the ongoing story of the school and the loose collection of kids that we know from it.

I’ll admit there was one point in the story I didn’t 100% follow, how Cora suddenly realised that the headmaster wasn’t the real one, and how they’d all get out of there. I don’t know if I missed something, or whether it just was meant to be a bolt of intuition… But that didn’t take away the fun of watching Cora come into herself and emerge strong.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Across the Green Grass Fields

Posted December 4, 2023 by Nicky in Reviews / 4 Comments

Review – Across the Green Grass Fields

Across the Green Grass Fields

by Seanan McGuire

Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 174
Series: Wayward Children #6
Rating: three-stars
Synopsis:

"Welcome to the Hooflands. We're happy to have you, even if you being here means something's coming."

Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to Be Sure before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines--a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem...

This instalment of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children novellas is a step back from the rest, which are developing a sort of formula (former student of the school needs help in some way, the others all team up to solve their problems). In fact, I don’t think any of the other kids we’ve seen in the other books are even mentioned: Regan kind of stands alone, and I don’t think we’ve heard any reference to the Hooflands elsewhere before.

As such, it’s a point where someone unused to these books might be able to start — but I don’t know that I’d recommend it as a starting point, to be honest. It’s rather skippable, actually, except for the fact that it showcases an intersex protagonist.

Overall, it didn’t stand out a lot to me: it felt like it was a lot of leadup for very little payoff, and I wasn’t surprised by the conclusion at all. (Which one doesn’t necessarily need to be, especially in a series as metafictional as this one is, but it still didn’t feel fresh to me, which is perhaps a better descriptor of what I was hoping for.)

Not unenjoyable, but not a favourite, and one I may not return to in future rereads.

Rating: 3/5

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