Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

Publisher - Tor

Published - Out Now

Price - £8.27 Kindle ebook

The third book in McGuire's Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the "real" world.

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can't find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests...

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

Warning: May contain nuts.

I have really enjoyed the previous entries into the Wayward Children series. The tales of the what happened to all the children who survived adventures in portal fantasy worlds. It adds a realistic to what wouldthe impact be on a child on losing an entire lifetime in a very different world while also reminding us of the ways outsiders can bond. The third book takes place after the events of the first and is a wonderful way to both tie up some earlier plot points and open up some new avenues for the books to explore.

In this case a new pupil Cora recently returned from a world of mermaids is suddey surprised by a young teenager falling from the sky. It quickly turns out that this is Rini the daughter of a former pupil called Sumi who we first met in the opening volume. But Sumi died in the events of that book changing the history of the Nonsense world she changed and now Rini is vanishing from history. Cora and her friends realise that the only solution is to ressurect their friend and this means a dangerous quest to find her soul and bring her back to life.

So this is a quest tale with a difference as the focus is on saving a dead child. You’d think this would be a morbid adventure but it’s so much more. It’s a strangely wonderful journey into a number of these portal worlds where the children’s experiences help then face down a number of challenges. Cora is finding her place being a larger child she is used to being tormented by strangers but is quickly realising this school and it’s pupils have much more acceptance of anyone who doesn’t pass for the average. There is Nadya still missing their water world; Christopher who was dazzled by a skeleton girl and holds a flute of nine and finally Kade who increasingly is taking the lead at the school and no longer wanted at the Goblin Market.

It is a weaving tale where these various experiences get explained and help compliment the others. Their ability to face death, bargain with Gods and fight with armies work in all the worlds they visit and perhaps in keeping with Rini’s Nonsense world while the story seems to be made of lots of strange weird moments such as a dancing skeleton in a graveyard or a room of floating souls. you have to let the story lead you not your rational side but the internal logic really works. We revisit the main character Nancy from the first book in a world of living statues and its really stressed that each world is one that works for the individual not necessarily the place you’d want to live in but you understand the choices.

These stories are magical and also reminders that childhood can often be painful at how we are not always accepted for who we are and looking for that place and the people where we fit in is one of the hardest thing we all do at that age . When you mix in these the creative worlds we explore and such delightful characters its a very tasty tale. If you’re looking for a refreshing novella after Christmas this one may be up your street!