Across the Green Grass Fields, Seanan McGuire’s newest addition to the Wayward Children series is bringing us a touching and verdant tale that takes place amongst centaurs and unicorns.
Seanan McGuire, author of countless novels, novellas, comics, short stories, and songs, has an inborn connection to myths and legends. In reading her stories, it seems like McGuire takes tales of old and twists them, turns them on their head, and serves them to her readers like an exquisite delicacy. I have gorged myself on her stories in the past. I can say that I have enjoyed what Seanan has written for her full catalog in one way or another. Even the stories that don’t 100% connect with me as a reader, I appreciate her mastery as a writer. Luckily for me, she is a prolific writer, and I have many choices in stories.
All that being said, I enjoyed Across the Green Grass Fields, as I have enjoyed or loved the other books in her Wayward Children series, but this one was not my favorite. I came out of the story almost ambivalent to the plot.
The story starts with the main character, a little girl named Regan. Regan is different than other girls in the story. You see how Regan is kind and empathetic and how she stumbles in personal relationships as McGuire details the intricacies of those relationships with her peers. Girls can be mean, the mean girl stereotype is there for a reason, and she is getting the full force of it due to her “best friend.” While Regan is ten at the start of this story, that is only in years as Regan is far wiser in some ways than your average ten-year-old girl.
Regan has one passion, and that is a love of horses. According to Regan, this is an acceptable passion for a young girl. Had she had a passion, for say, bugs, she knows that she would be ostracized and shunned as some of her classmates had been. She keeps most of this love to herself and does not share it with her schoolmates. This self-awareness plays a significant role in Regan’s character’s development as the story moves onwards.
As the story continues, Regan ages, and her schoolmates physically develop. But, Regan seems stalled in her childlike stage. She is standing on the precipice of starting that terrible transition to adulthood but not quite getting there.
She goes to her parents with the question, “Why?” Why is she different than the other girls? Her parents let her know that she is intersex. I am delighted that McGuire took such a real and pertinent issue and gave it the treatment it deserves. Regan is an example of one of McGuire’s strengths, in that she treats and creates children as real human beings. They feel fear, panic, and emotional turmoil and are not treated with, pardon the pun, kid gloves.
Regan reaches out to a “friend” and explains to her friend what being intersex is. She wants to talk about a momentous thing in her life so she reaches out to a “friend.” The “friend” reacts as I can imagine some children reacting and starts yelling at her, calling her a boy and telling the school. What should be an intimate moment between friends turns into taunting and jeers from uninformed and cruel kids. Regan runs out of her school.
At this point, Regan finds a door.
If you are familiar with any of the Wayward Children books, you understand the significance of a door and what it means for the child. The door is to a place, unlike your home. In previous books, a door led children to a land of mad science and death, a goblin market, or lands made of candy. Each land changes the child.
In this child’s case, the land that Regan walked into is one called Hooflands. A land of centaurs, unicorns, and other creatures of the same ilk. Perfect land for one who loves all creatures equine. It is said when a human child comes through a door into the Hooflands; it portends to change. By the act of her coming to The Hooflands, her human nature wills a destiny into effect. One that will affect the citizens of The Hooflands and change the world they know. Regan does not believe in destiny.