A young girl discovers a portal to a land filled with centaurs and unicorns in Seanan McGuire’s Across the Green Grass Fields, a standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Wayward Children series.
“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…
This is a poignant coming of age story, that depicts the realistic setting and the fantastical with equal, aching clarity. It is part of a series, but can be read alone, since characters from the other books in the series don’t make an appearance in this book, just a form of magic that is common to all the books and which is fairly easily explained. The cover copy describes Regan’s friendship situation as “complicated,” which I think is a bit of an understatement. Also, I felt worried for Regan at the end of the book, because I wasn’t sure how she would fit into a world that had not been easy for her before she went through the door into the Hooflands, and probably won’t be any easier for her on her return to this world. Mcguire handles topics like being intersexed, different forms of relationships, and making hard choices with aplomb.
Regan is asked to choose between two friends at the beginning of the book, and this choice is difficult for her. I felt that the friend she chose was abusive towards her, and if not abusive, then not very kind or considerate. Mcguire was able to capture childhood conflict in all it’s bigness without making it feel overblown, which is difficult to do. Being intersexed is a plot point at the beginning of the novel, but it didn’t feel forced.
Regan loves horses, which may explain a little why she ended up stepping into the Hooflands. It is full of magical equines, like centaurs and kelpies and unicorns. The central theme and conflict of the book is that everything is not always what it appears on the surface. What I liked about the way Mcguire deployed this in her book is that Regan is not the only character who learned this; in a way, everyone in the book had to learn this. Regan is not an anti-hero, if that’s what the cover copy led you to believe, she just saves her world in a different way than most heroes do, which is hard but good and important.
I would have given this book a higher grade if I were positive that Regan would at least be happy when she returned to this world, but I wasn’t. This book is suitable for teenaged readers and adults, and it does not have any romance elements.
You can buy a copy here.