I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, Tor.com, in exchange for an honest review.
Over the past few years, I’ve come to love Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series fiercely. And thanks to the wonderful people at Tor.com, reading the newest installment a bit ahead of its publication date has become something of a Christmas tradition for me. These novellas are all beautifully written and poignant and full of heavy topics handled with a light but respectful touch. Across the Green Grass Fields is no exception to this rule.
“Girlhood wasn’t destiny unless you wanted it to be, and she had accepted her destiny wholeheartedly. Anything to be normal.”
In this sixth volume of the loose series we meet Regan, a young girl who loves horses and lives in fear of being shunned for any reason. She tries to surpress anything about herself that might make her stand out, but it’s not enough. When Regan finds out why she doesn’t fit in easily with the other girls, her sense of betrayal drives her through a Door into a world she didn’t know she was searching for.
“…anyone who answered a friend’s honesty with horror and rejection had never been a friend in the first place.”
The Hooflands are populated by every hoofed creature imaginable. Unicorns, fauns, kelpies, selines, perytons, and minotaurs abound. But Regan finds her true home in a herd of centaurs, where she learns that being a strong woman doesn’t look the same for everyone. Within this herd, Regan finds love and acceptance and empowerment. Her human parents in our world also loved her fiercely and accepted her unconditionally and would have done anything to help her feel empowered, but something about the presence of hooves and furred flanks has cleared her vision enough to finally accept and love herself.
“I can be beautiful and limited at the same time… There’s nothing wrong with being limited, as long as you have people around to make sure those limitations don’t get you hurt.”
This story, like all of its predecessors, deals with some heavy topics in lovely, respectful ways while never impeding the plot in any way. The tale at the heart of this book was meandering but compelling, and I enjoyed it immensely right up until I didn’t. The ending seemed incredibly abrupt, but as that’s how it would have seemed for Regan, I think that was the point. But even though I understand the choice, it still left me a teensy bit dissatisfied with the final pages.
“She still didn’t believe in destiny. Clay shaped into a cup was not always destined to become a drinking vessel; it was simply shaped by someone too large to be resisted. She was not clay, but she had been shaped by her circumstances all the same, not directed by any destiny.”
Across the Green Grass Fields is an achingly lovely story about a girl who loved horses but not herself, who finally found self-acceptance among the hoofed inhabitants of another world. It was a solid new installment in a series that resonates deeply with a multitude of readers, and I think they’re going to really love this one.
Expected publication: January 14, 2021
All quotations were taken from the proof copy and are subject to change upon publication.
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