I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher, Tordotcom, in exchange for an honest review.
One of my personal holiday traditions has become reading the newest Wayward Children novella on or right after Christmas. Tordotcom has been kind enough to facilitate that tradition for the past 6 years by sending me a galley copy of each installment before its publication, usually in January. It’s always one of my most exciting pieces of book mail of the year. Some installments have been more successful (for me) than others, but this year’s release, Where the Drowned Girls Go, brought me back to the magic of the first book. There we were introduced to the dark sister school of Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, but we also begin to see various storylines from previous novellas finally tying themselves together. Because of this, my hopes for this newest installment, Lost in the Moment and Found, were very high, and I was expecting even more of the series to come together.
Lost in the Moment and Found is nothing like I expected while still being everything I hoped it would be.
I was expecting a furtherance of the overarching plot, as we were given in its direct predecessor, Where the Drowned Girls Go. That’s not what McGuire delivers here. Instead, she gives us an achingly beautiful, linear observation of a beautiful little girl whose life falls apart slowly but unexpectedly. And as we follow this girl, we see her face her trauma in nuanced, subtle ways that could be by turns both difficult and healing for readers who have faced similar things in their own pasts. Antsy’s story is beautiful, sad, and oddly cathartic. I was gripped from the first sentence to the last.
Antoinette, or Antsy to those who love her, is a beautiful, feisty, very happy 5 year-old when we first meet her. But when she loses her father, in a way that he can never be found, Antsy’s life takes a turn. When things outside of her control threaten her in ways that she can’t even fully understand, Antsy runs. And, like many such children on the run from trauma, Antsy finds her Door. The world she finds on the other side is a bit of a nexus, and Antsy finds that she can visit all kinds of worlds from the Shop Where the Lost Things Go. This Shop lives up to its name; it is indeed where all the lost things go. Some are searched out and found, while others find new homes and still others molder away, forgotten for always. Antsy will face some unusual (but highly symbolic) difficulties and decisions in the Shop, but the Door was right; this place is hers.
As with all of the books in the Wayward Children series, trauma and the ways in which we deal with it are at the forefront of this story. Each novella has addressed a different source of trauma, or multiple sources, in different ways. In Lost in the Moment and Found, that trauma is grooming, adult gaslighting, and what those things could possibly lead to. Because this could be so triggering for so many readers, McGuire makes sure that you know, before the story even begins, that Antsy runs. Before anything can happen, Antsy runs. I love that McGuire gives us this warning at the beginning, because it’s something that is so personal to her. I really respect both the decision and McGuire’s transparency here.
The writing itself is just as beautiful and poignant as I’ve come to expect from this series. McGuire has an achingly lovely way with words, but in a way that further builds and focuses on the character at the center of the story instead of distracting from her in any way. I love lush prose, but not at the expense of the characters or story, so the balance McGuire strikes here is absolutely perfect, in my opinion. This is a slim tale that part of me wishes were longer, but honestly these novellas are the perfect length for the stories they hold. These are without a doubt my favorite novellas, and they demonstrate how the shorter format can shine in the right hands.
Lost in the Moment and Found is an exquisite installment in what has become one of my favorite series of all time. There is something powerful and profound, heartbreaking and life-affirming, about the series as a whole. Not every novella has been my favorite, but this is the 5th in the series that I’ve given a full 5 star rating. The stories McGuire is telling through this series matter so much. Wayward Children beautifully represents every kind of person and showcases how children can overcome even the worst trauma. I’m so glad that I live in a world where these books exist and are there to help those who see themselves in any of these stories face what they’ve suffered and find a way to overcome it.
Expected publication: January 10th, 2023 (US) | February 21st, 2023 (UK)
You can purchase this book from: Blackwell’s | Bookshop.org (Support independent bookstores!) | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Audible | Libro.fm (Another way to support independent bookstores!) | Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide!)