The Wayward Children novella series is one my favorite ever. Add to that, the fact that McGuire is one of my favorite Adult Fantasy writers and this is a match made in heaven. I was so excited to read this most recent novella, but it hit me unpredictably. Across the Green Grass Fields is a story about fitting into boxes and creating future. Keep reading this book review to see what struck me unexpectedly.
“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”
Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.
When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines―a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.
But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
If you haven’t read the Wayward Children novellas, you are missing out. You don’t have to have read the entire series to enjoy Across the Green Grass Fields, but you are robbing yourself of some fabulous novellas. Across the Green Grass Fields has that whimsical writing I’ve come to expect from McGuire. Paired with lyrical turns of phrase, McGuire attaches pieces of wisdom distilled into words. In Across the Green Grass Fields, what struck me almost instantly, is how McGuire is able to describe gender stereotypes and performance.
Gender Performance and Regan
The way we are so quickly thrown out of the social circle when our actions do not conform. When we are too honest with our thoughts, when our passions do not fit into the box of “girlhood”. Those moments when love, and friendship, feels conditional. Plagued by the fear of stepping out of it and letting that fear cage us, exclude those we love – those who it is right to include. McGuire so perfectly encapsulates that feeling of wanting to fit in, to have your interests and hobbies fit with someone whose opinion means the world to you.
Gender performance and the cruelty of rigid stereotypes only impacts Regan more because she was born intersex. McGuire is able to distill the ways we are ostracized for the ways our identity defies conformity. For that tight rope we walk upon to assert our identity, but also never step out of line. And for Regan this performance, this act, is even more precarious as the kids around her do not understand – are not willing to embrace the possibility of her. That there exists more than what we are taught and hold tight.
Fantasy Doors We Fall Through
And then Regan is introduced to a new fantastical world. One where humans are exceedingly rare. There she is able to find a community who cares for her. Found family is one of my favorite themes throughout this entire Wayward Children. The ways in which we can stumble across worlds where we feel more at home. And what happens when we return. The ending felt like a whirlwind and a bit hasty, but I loved the themes and Regan’s character.
Across the Green Grass Fields is a story that asks whether we can escape the reckoning of destiny. Are any of us able to escape the confines of the narratives that surround us? That limit the worlds we create? Regan will have to figure out if she can embrace or reject her destiny. She will have to learn to see the truths and lies for what they are as her power and destiny become closely linked.