Across The Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children, #6)
Queer Rep Summary: Intersex Main Character(s).
ACROSS THE GREEN GRASS FIELDS is the balm to my horse-kid soul, a caring story of wildness, hoofbeats, and the importance we place on something as fickle and illusory as destiny.
I love how the possible quest is secondary to the important task of helping the MC feel safe and watching her grow up. She's a human in the Hooflands and that means Important Things Must Someday Happen, but they don't have to happen today. In a series that has had many more straight-forward quests and presumably will have many more, this is a mostly calm break, a landing place after a lot of very intense events in the previous entry, COME TUMBLING DOWN. As one of the self-contained entries it doesn't try to comment on the universe which makes this story possible, but lets it exist unto itself while still being consistent with the broader narrative with which returning readers will be familiar.
Now for my regular sequel check. This is part of the Wayward Children Series, but, just like its fellow even-numbered books, it can be read as a stand-alone. This one in particular has a MC who is either completely new or who I just don't remember from the previous books; I'm pretty sure she's a new character and this is her introduction. As a self-contained book with a completely new MC, it doesn't wrap up anything left hanging from previous books, its entire storyline begins in this book and wasn't present in the previous book. It definitely leaves things to be addressed, like, what will the MC do in any future installments in the series? This series has a strained relationship with linearity and a very specific premise tying everything together, so it doesn't actually spoil anything to say I hope I see her again. The MC is distinct from previous characters, but the omniscient narrator is a soothing, knowing voice I recognize from other books by this author, it's in keeping with the narrator's style in the previous installments in this particular series. That narrator remembers being a kid and conveys beautiful how the particular kids in the story think about the adults around them, all without ever diminishing their experiences as children. This would absolutely make sense if someone started with this book and didn't know about the series. They might wonder what's going on with the doors, but the MC doesn't know either and so someone could happily read this and then, energized and intrigued and even more in love with horse-creatures, go back for the previous entries (rest assured that they have just as much heart but sadly fewer horses).
I was pulled in by the centaurs and the unicorns, but what absolutely made my day were the twin delights of the kelpie (my favorite murderous water horse in any fae-adjacent story) and the peryton (new to me and oh so welcome). I didn't know I needed a scavenging sky-deer in my life but now I don't know what ever I did without it. The social dynamics of centaurs was a treat I won't soon forget. Seanan is the author I read when I want to feel better without pretending not to be sad, and this was a great entry in a fantastic series.
CW for interphobia, bullying, kidnapping, violence, animal death (not depicted), death (not depicted).