Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3)
July 8, 2019 6:32 AM - by Seanan McGuire - Subscribe

Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book in McGuire's Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages. When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.) If she can't find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests... A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.
posted by dinty_moore (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I read this before the first book in the series, which I feel is only fitting given its approach to causality.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:23 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed the audiobook for this, but not as much as Every Heart a Doorway. The reader (Michelle Dockery) did a great job differentiating voices and making things entertaining, but I think in the end I'm just more interested in the concept of the school than the portal fantasy adventures.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:43 PM on July 8

I really loved Every Heart a Doorway, and had trouble getting into the first sequel. I think I agree that this isn't as good as Every Heart a Doorway, but it was much more the sequel that I was looking for. Good to be back at the school, at least for part of the story.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:17 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]

I love this series. I dread to see how SyFy is going to fuck it up if the tv-series really does happen (though I'm thrilled for Seanan McGuire to get those big tv-adaptation checks; even if the show ends up being a train wreck it will be a train wreck that feeds Seanan, her cats, and family, so, bring it on).
posted by oh yeah! at 4:50 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]

This is such a great series. It really resonates with the little kid in me who never felt at home in the real world. I guess that isn't something you outgrow.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 11:08 AM on July 9

Yeah, and I do appreciate the variety of 'ways kids don't fit in' - the sick kid, the fat kid, being trans, having an accent, not being who your parents want you to be. I definitely daydreamed about finding myself in a portal fantasy a lot as a kid, and it's an interesting answer to the problem of Susan.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:42 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]

BTW, I feel like somebody should point out that something like a third of this story is a reference to season 2 of Sailor Moon. She even named the kid from the future Rini!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:43 AM on July 9

"I really loved Every Heart a Doorway, and had trouble getting into the first sequel. I think I agree that this isn't as good as Every Heart a Doorway, but it was much more the sequel that I was looking for."

Really? I loved Down Among the Sticks and Stones and I think it's maybe the best thing she's written. I think this particular series is the best she's written -- a weight class above where she usually writes. These are lyrical, poignant, heartbreaking, and layered, as well as being carefully crafted.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:29 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]

The Moors and Jack and Jill's time there were already one of the more fleshed out worlds in EHaD, and I didn't feel like the fuller story added that much, for me. Plus, what I really wanted was to get back to the school, so it took me a couple tries to get into it.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:09 PM on July 9

These are not my favourites of hers -- I love the settings, I'm a sucker for a good setting, and I will read them as long as I continue to love the settings (please write one at the other school, the ones for kids who don't want to go back). But I don't find the characterisation particularly well done, even granted how short the stories are, and I think that her plotting has been getting less to my taste over time. I hope she continues to have success, but I suspect once she closes the Toby books I will be less assiduous in looking for her books.
posted by jeather at 5:00 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]

I felt like this was the weakest of the novellas, but I still loved it.

It was exactly what I wanted after reading Every Heart a Doorway. I loved Sumi and wanted her connection to nonsense to save her. So, yay!
posted by Tabitha Someday at 7:48 AM on July 10

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