Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire

[Tor Novella]
★★★★★ Sweet, Exciting, Funny, and Moving

(Portal Fantasy; Wayward Children) Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children caters to children who went to a portal world, came back, and can’t cope. No one planned on the arrival of a child born in a portal world, much less one asking for help—from a dead person. (39,193 words; Time: 2h:10m)

It’s not strictly necessary to read “Every Heart a Doorway” before this story, but it will help. See related articles on

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Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The surface plot has a happy ending: Sumi is resurrected, the timeline is restored, Rini is saved. There’s plenty of tension and excitement along the way, and the two worlds we see are beautifully described. Those who already read “Every Heart a Doorway,” should enjoy the reunion with Nancy. Moving moments include Rini’s appeal to Sumi to come back, and, of course, Nadya’s well-earned return to Belyyreka.

There’s a strong theme of coming of age here. Cora is an athlete, a champion swimmer, and yet she’s traumatized by the endless taunting she gets for being fat. Her transformation from timid girl afraid to talk to people to the confident young woman who takes on the Queen of Cakes and wins is the heart  of the story. She’s shy and quiet up to the point where she rescues Christopher from the soda lake, but that plunge back into her element transforms her, and from that point, she’s a leader.

Kade is remarkable not what what he does but for what he is. He’s the sole character who’s consistently comfortable with who he is, and he’s the anchor everyone else clings to in time of need.

The other characters are mostly just along for the ride, but that’s okay: it’s a great ride.

Con: The text sometimes gets confused about which of Rini’s body parts have disappeared. For example, sometimes it refers to her “eyes” or “hands” after previously making it clear she only has one left.

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Seanan McGuire Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This series continues to be great! I really loved Cora.

  2. Another excellent novella. Well worth reading.