RogerBW's Blog

Beneath the Sugar Sky, Seanan McGuire 24 June 2019

2018 Hugo-nominated modern fantasy novella in the Wayward Children series. The Home for Wayward Children has another person to be got back to their right place.

This is the third in the series that started with Every Heart a Doorway; Down Among the Sticks and Bones was apparently not nominated last year, and I haven't read it. And if the first one felt like a series pilot, this feels like a series episode: a cast member departs, another one (re)joins, there's a guest star, but while some people's individual stories have come to an end everyone else ends basically just where they were before (until it's time for their starring episide)… and it's all bathed in a sauce of universal acceptance that is so overdone that it comes over to me as preachy.

There is some thought given to how a land of sugar would work – which mostly consists of noticing a problem and saying "meh, the rules are different here, don't think too hard about it or the world will eject you"… which is perhaps an apt restatement of the MST3K Mantra: the world-building here is paper-thin, and if you blunder around poking at it, it will tear. (The same applies to the time-travel angle: someone has to be rescued so that she can, later, have a daughter, and that daughter is one of the rescuers, but is gradually vanishing Back to the Future-style, but apparently her hands and face dissolving are no barrier to her holding things or speaking. It's just work for the visual effects lab.) The point is the people, and All the Feels are duly, er, felt.

At least in this setting the teenage protagonists are more interested in getting back to their own worlds than in copping off with each other.

All right, I don't really get on with McGuire's writing style anyway.

(This work was nominated for the 2019 Hugo Awards.)

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