My winter-long quest for literary anti-depressants has led me to worlds both delightful and…concerningly delightful. Like, who wouldn’t love hiking through an Enchanted Forest full of fairy tale parodies, or holing up in a dragon’s library cave? Who’d pass up an afternoon in a baking god’s kitchen, watching her create a world of candy corn fields and gingerbread castles?
But the Moors? A world that inspires horror movies? It just shows that marketing really is everything — if you sell it, they will come. And when your chipper friend from the candied dreamworld declares that the blood-red moon glaring down at you is really “the sugared cherry on the biggest murder sundae in the whole world,” you can’t help but twitch a smile.
Maybe it helps that death in Seanan McGuire’s universe — yes, even in the Moors — is “a temporary setback.” Maybe I can handle the horrors and tragedies in McGuire’s stories because she never allows them to root in deeply enough to inspire true cynicism. As Cassandra says in the latest Toby novel, “Nothing can be broken forever and stay stable.”
And it absolutely helps that her worlds are full of realistically complex characters who openly smash stereotypes — the fat girl who’s more athletic than her slim friends, the transgender boy who loves sewing. the germaphobic scientist who regularly works with macabre substances…
As I said in a previous post, stories like these leave me feeling more hopeful about the Real World and its own brokenness. Some adults may be like the ones who sent their kids to the Wayward school, but plenty are former portal-crossers themselves, who might grow up to create a better Earth for all of us.
- A book recommended by a friend: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, by Patricia C. Wrede (thank you, Sarah Maree!). I already read the first book last fall, so I’m only counting Searching for Dragons (Book 2) for the challenge thus far.
- A book with food in the title: Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire.
- A book with multiple Points of View: Come Tumbling Down, by Seanan McGuire (audiobook read by the author herself! I’ve been discovering so many new — and long — walking paths with my own four-footed goblin child, as an excuse to listen to more audiobooks).
- A book about friendship/family (an in-progress read): Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire (audiobook also read by McGuire). I realize I could’ve counted this one as “Fantasy/SciFi” so I’d be closer to filling up the right-most column, but I decided to make things a bit more challenging for myself by not counting more than two books by the same author in the same row.