Saturday, 20 January 2018

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire is the latest instalment in the Wayward Children series. I have previously read and reviewed Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones, both of which I loved. Happily, beneath the sugar sky continues this trend. It is set after the events of Every Heart a Doorway and does hark back to some of them. While it would probably work read in isolation, I recommend reading (at least) Every Heart a Doorway first. And it’s such a wonderful series, why wouldn’t you want to read all of them?

Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the "real" world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

Beneath the Sugar Sky introduces a new character, Cora, recently arrived at the school for children who want to go back through their doors, and from whose point of view we see much of the story. In the real world, before Cora went through her door, she spent a lot of time being teased for being fat and only really found her place on the school swimming team as an endurance swimmer. Knowing this, of course her doorway lead to an underwater world where she was a mermaid.

But that's not actually the main plot of this story. The real plot starts when a girl falls from the sky into the school's turtle pond. Her mother was one of the girls that died in Every Heart a Doorway and now she's disappearing out of existence as her world (where time is running on a different schedule) realises that she was never born. A team of students — Cora, Kade, Christoper and Nadya — set out on a quest to fix things and stop Rini from disappearing. The quest takes them through a couple of different worlds, including Confection, Rini's home where everything is made of sugar.

This was another gorgeous story — a portal fantasy about portal fantasies. I really enjoyed reading Cora's reactions to their circumstances and, well, I always like a badarse character who doesn't look it. We also get to learn more about the pasts of the other characters in the book, adding layers to the story. Some day, when there are a lot more books in the series (I hope), I want to reread them all in quick succession, to keep everyone's stories in my mind better instead of reading a sequel two years after the first book. The only thing that bothered me about this book was the grammatically incorrect Russian name of Nadya's world. But this was very minor compared with the rest of the book.

I highly recommend Beneath the Sugar Sky to fans of the Wayward Children books. I recommend reading this book after Every Heart a Doorway but it's not completely necessary. I especially recommend Beneath the Sugar Sky to readers who enjoy reading about a fat protagonist who deals with a lot of real-life issues, as well as magical problems. I hope there will be more Wayward Children books. This is a wonderful world and I would be happy with a long series set there.

5 / 5 stars

First published: January 2018, Tor.com
Series: Wayward Children book 3 of 3 so far
Format read: ePub
Source: Purchased on iBooks

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