Fantasy · YA

Across The Green Grass Fields – Seanan McGuire

5 Stars

I love this series so, so, so much. Across the Green Grass Fields is the sixth installment in Seanan McGuire’s Alex, Hugo, Nebula and Locus award winning Wayward Children series of novellas. In this story, we meet a brand new character and explore her origin story.

The image of a green meadow with a tree rising into a blue sky with the title "Across the green grass fields" across it in white text
Cover from Goodreads

“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…

Do you remember growing up and being absolutely obsessed with a topic? Cars, cats, dinosaurs, trains or horses? Do you remember when suddenly the things you loved became the things that made people “weird” and friend groups began to change? I certainly do, and I think a lot of other readers will as well. Across the Green Grass Fields is as much about Regan’s adventures in the Hooflands as it is about her childhood here in our world and the painful experiences of growing up in a world that demands conformity, when all the rules are ever changing and constructed by others. It’s about friendship and the value in finding friends who value you for you – and being unafraid to be yourself.

Regan is also intersex – and might be the first time I’ve ever encountered an explicitly intersex character on page. For that alone, this story is new and unique, but Across the Green Grass Fields isn’t “an intersex story” as much as any of the previous books in the Wayward series haven’t been “the fat girl story” or “the asexual story”. They’re stories featuring characters that just are, and are allowed to be, in all the glorious diversity we’ve been starved of for so long. I am not an intersex person, and cannot comment on how “accurate” the portayal is, though I have heard from several intersex folks on Twitter that they see themselves in this book. I also know the kind of care Seanan gives to her writing and development of characters, so I am excited to see how the book goes over more widely.

In Come Tumbling Down, the previous Wayward Children book, I noted that Seanan seemed to struggle with pacing and that I felt that the end just popped up and was somewhat anticlimactic and sudden. When I was 75% of the way through Across the Green Grass Fields and Regan hadn’t really begun her quest yet, I was concerned that I’d feel the same way about pacing. I am pleased to report that my fears did not come true. The ending is quick, but makes sense for the story and doesn’t feel abrupt or anticlimactic at all. It might be one of my favorite endings so far (though In An Absent Dream still reigns supreme).

Across the Green Grass Fields is the most standalone of all the Wayward Children stories – at the moment. Regan has not appeared in any of the previous novellas, and I will be very curious to see how her story intersects with the rest of them in the next book, which should take place at the school.

Across the Green Grass Fields releases on January 12, 2021. Be Sure to pick up your copy from a local bookstore near you, or online through Bookshop.org.

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