Synopsis: 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.
“Children have always tumbled down rabbit holes, fallen through mirrors, been swept away by unseasonal floods or carried off by tornadoes. Children have always traveled, and because they are young and bright and full of contradictions, they haven’t always restricted their travel to the possible. Adulthood brings limitations like gravity and linear space and the idea that bedtime is a real thing, and not an artificially imposed curfew. Adults can still tumble down rabbit holes and into enchanted wardrobes, but it happens less and less with every year they live. Maybe this is a natural consequence of living in a world where being careful is a necessary survival trait, where logic wears away the potential for something bigger and better than the obvious. Childhood melts, and flights of fancy are replaced by rules. Tornados kill people: they don’t carry them off to magical worlds. Talking foxes are a sign of fever, not guides sent to start some grand adventure.
But children, ah, children. Children follow the foxes, and open the wardrobes, and peek beneath the bridge. Children climb the walls and fall down the wells and run the razor’s edge of possibility until sometimes, just sometimes, the possible surrenders and shows them the way to go home.”
In Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third installment in the Wayward Children series, we return to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. This is about Rini, a girl who literally falls from the sky one day, landing in a pond behind the school. Rini is from Confection, a land that is made out of sugar. She is searching for her mother (& one of my favorite characters from the series) Sumi, someone we were introduced to in Every Heart a Doorway. Which.. if you read that, then you will know that the timeline is.. well.. peculiar.
While much of the focus is on the events that have brought Rini to the school, the main POV is the green & blue haired Cora. She is the heart of the story, truly. This incredibly vibrant, seemingly confident, gorgeous character that has come from the world of beautiful Reason, where she was once a mermaid. This character that is all of those things but is also awkward, filled with self-doubt & struggles to feel accepted because of her weight. I loved her so goddamn much!!
“Sometimes that’s all you can do. Just keep getting through until you don’t have to do it anymore, however much time that takes, however difficult it is.”
I was pleasantly surprised that there were some familiar faces that returned in this story. Even though it says it’s a standalone.. just read them in the order they were released. For real. JUST DO IT!! At least read Every Heart a Doorway before tucking into Beneath the Sugar Sky. Deal?
There is so much whimsy in this installment, it’s sugary sweet. I mean.. Confection is basically Candy Land. The ocean is pink soda, the fields are candy corn, there is a gingerbread castle. It was fucking delightful! Yet.. also dangerous. The worldbuilding is BONKERS! It’s beyond imaginative and so bloody fun. I can’t help but feel completely enraptured in McGuire’s storytelling!
This series just.. it resonates deeply within my soul. I was not expecting to have each one of these volumes kick my ass so intensely with emotion. But they did. I read the upcoming In an Absent Dream immediately after this & it was fucking glorious, too. I am a massive fan of this delicious series & will continue to throw it at people (not.. not literally.)