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Across the Green Grass Fields: 01/29/20
Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire is the sixth book in the Wayward Children series. This one covers Regan's time in the Hooflands where she lived with a centaur family.
At home, Regan found herself between two friendships. There's the girl who likes bugs and science. And there's the popular girl who believes in destiny and in behaving a certain gender based way. Regan choses popular over interesting and later regrets it.
When the other girls are starting to change and starting to get their periods, Regan doesn't. It's then that her parents tell her why she hasn't. She's intersex. She might not care but the popular girl does. Different is proper. Different is enough of a sin to no longer be friends.
So it's in that emotional state of mind and the desire for an unconditional friendship that summons Regan's door. Even in Hooflands, though, humans are different. They're useful. They're signs of the upcoming revolution. They're portents of greater destinies. Regan, though, wants none of that. She just wants to live her life with her found family.
Going into this novella, I knew the author collects My Little Ponies. It was hard not read without the theme song in my head, but with "pony" replaced by "centaur."
Despite my personal hiccup, the novel provides interesting world-building that considers how horses live and how the horse experience might shape centaur society. Further more the centaurs are at top of a caste system, one where the other inferior equine creatures are animals and even sources of food.
Given how short the book was, I wish more time was spent in the Hooflands. Regan's life from early childhood to the point she leaves was a bit of a slog. These pre-doorway scenes could easily be labeled as a prolog and left to the individual whether to read them or not.
Across the Green Grass Fields like the previous books in the series sits on the road narrative spectrum. Regan takes two journeys: one to the Hooflands, and one in the Hooflands. Both, though, are built from the same three narrative building blocks.
Regan is an orphan traveler (FF) in that she takes both of her journeys alone. Her goal or destination in both is home (66). In the first case it's the making of a found family with the centaurs. In the second case it's the journey that ultimately returns her home after six years in the Hooflands. Her route is the labyrinth (99), both figuratively and literally. Figuratively at first in that she has to mature in order to take her journey in Hooflands. Literally in that she meets the Minotaur and he sends her home. Thus Across the Green Grass Fields can be understood as an orphan finding home via the labyrinth (FF6699).
Book seven will be Where the Drowned Girls Go. It releases in January 2022.