{Audiobook} Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

Beneath the Sugar Sky

Wayward Children #3

Seanan McGuire

Narrator: Michelle Dockrey

Beneath the Sugar Sky, 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.

Publisher: Tor.com

Published: January 9th 2018

Bullying, Fatphobic Comments, Attempted Suicide, Mention of Death, Murder and Mutilation, Blood Depiction, Drowning, Unhealthy Diet Culture

“There is kindness in the world, if we know how to look for it. If we never start denying it the door.”

After following the high I had reading Down Among the Sticks and Bones, I had no idea what I was getting into with this one. And, I’m glad I went into it without much inclination as to what would be going on.

This narrator did an amazing job here. She gave enough emotion and energy to differentiate the characters and give them their own voice and overall made the listening experience something I could fly through without once ever losing my interest.

Now, with what I did know of the story, I couldn’t exactly figure out how this would work out or even make sense? That was mistake number one— with worlds of nonsense and logic and chaos, I shouldn’t be asking too many questions. But… how are we going to save Sumi? How are we going to save her daughter? How does she even have a daughter? How are we going to get back? However, the way everything was explained, I couldn’t help but go yes, of course that makes sense, genuinely why do I even doubt the brilliance of this authors writing?

Out of the three, this one definitely felt like a true fairytale. With soda lakes and a cake queen, a journey to save the day, knights, deities, the works– the atmosphere made this audiobook an even bigger joy to listen to. And, we learn even more on how the worlds work here! Yes, it was still a bit confusing, but by the end of this series, I feel like I’ll get it… maybe.

“She’d heard that sort of hatred before, always from the women in her Weight Watchers groups, or at Overeaters Anonymous, the ones who had starved themselves into thinness and somehow failed to find the promised land of happy acceptance that they had always been told waited for them on the other side of the scale.”

And since the characters are the bread and butter (no pun intended) of the story, we have:

Cora – a fat mermaid from the Land Beneath the Lake who’s story I could genuinely relate to. As someone who grew up on the bigger side, I didn’t have it as bad as Cora, but some of the comments made at her definitely hit home. I loved the message that being fat had nothing to do with her diet, it was biology. It was metabolism and countless other things that didn’t require her to diet it away.

Nayda – the Turtle Queen from  from Belyyreka, a Drowned World. We didn’t get much of her and if I’m honest it doesn’t look like we will in any future books… but I appreciate that her missing arm wasn’t something made to be a big deal or something to hinder her, that she came from a home that thought they could fix her when she didn’t need to be fixed and ultimately found her happiness in the end.

Rini – Sumi’s daughter from Confection, who’s trying to find her mother before she disappears from existence.

Kade – our trans knight from Fairyland who I make no secret that I need a story on him ASAP and Ms. McGuire is holding out and I’m sad.

Christopher – one of my favorite characters from Mariposa, a skeleton Underworld who just wants to get back to the skeleton girl he loves back home. I, too, would love a story on him oh so desperately.

Oh, I should also mention we visit the Halls of the Dead and we get to see the Lady and Lord of the Dead and well as Nancy! I missed my little ace bean honestly.

I won’t say that Rini took a bit more of the spotlight here, but… I mean, we follow Cora and we go on a journey with her on self love and such, but Rini was such an in-your-face character, I couldn’t help but be drawn to her.

Despite that, this book is about friendship and finding those who love you for who you are, finding your people, your found family your self love. About how society treats disabilities, how they treat fat people, how they think they can fix them when really all they want is to be accepted, to be loved for who they are. I may not have connected to this one as much as I’d hoped, but it’s still very much so an important story and I am oh so grateful to have read it.

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