A young girl discovers a portal to a land filled with centaurs and unicorns in Seanan McGuire’s Across the Green Grass Fields, a standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-wining Wayward Children series.
“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”
Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.
When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines―a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.
But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…
This is still a fantastic read and I adore every book in this series, but for some reason this just didn’t seem to have the same spark I felt with the others. It felt a little “meh” in comparison but like I said still a great addition to the series and I still enjoyed myself.
A big part of why I enjoyed it has to do with the fact that this book and the fantasy world it takes us too is perfect for all my fellow “horse girls”! It’s called the Hooflands and has pretty much every mythological creature that has hooves or is horse related, (kelpies, centaurs, unicorns, etc) it was amazing. While I enjoyed all things horse related in this world it felt a little bland when compared to the worlds and adventures that have occurred in previous books. There didn’t seem to be a whole lot going on other than our main character Regan hanging out with the various characters she meets, there wasn’t really a big grand quest and what tidbit we got of a “quest” was pretty lackluster in my opinion. There is a sort of theme in the book about how quests and destiny aren’t always the same or what they seem, and I get it, I do. It just felt like a let down regardless. We also don’t see or have mention of any other characters from the series, Regan doesn’t even end up at the Home for Wayward Children, which isn’t the end of the world but I found it a little disappointing.
I would say the story focuses more on Regan and her journey and there is an overall theme of what it means to be yourself , not worry about everyone else and “fitting in”, and dealing with bullying. I thought this was handled very well and I actually teared up because of it while reading. We start the story out when Regan is very young and she has two friends named Laurel and Heather who love to do all sorts of “girly” things together. Laurel is very insistent upon gender stereotypes when it comes to how they dress and play, yes, she’s a child but there is a reason she is depicted this way in the story. There is an incident where Heather breaks these “girl rules” by showing them and playing with a snake she found, and this is where Regan sees what bullying and “breaking the normal girl rules” means. They completely alienate Heather and this absolutely broke my heart while reading and I think a HUGE part of that had to do with me personally really connecting with her character because I was similar as a child and the fact that we share a name didn’t help. As heart wrenching as this initially was it comes full circle for Regan and helps show her just how wrong the whole situation was and that there isn’t “any right way to be a girl”.
This is about where in the book Regan learns that she is intersex (she has androgen insensitivity syndrome) when other girls her age begin going through puberty and she isn’t, her parents are excellent with the way they explained and handled the situation honestly it was awesome to see. However, she makes the mistake of telling her “friend’ Laurel about this and panicking about being bullied (and misgendered) just like Heather was, which is essentially how she ends up going through a doorway into the Hooflands. I don’t consider any of this to be spoilers, it takes up a small portion of the book and I really didn’t feel like I could write a review without mentioning all of this and how well I thought it was executed in the end.
However, the ending overall was what I probably had the biggest issue with because of how disappointed I was with it. It felt very abrupt and sad, I won’t explain why because that’s heading into spoiler territory but it just left me feeling really hollow and sad with how Regan’s story ended and with how things ended in the Hooflands. Hopefully she will be brought back in future books and we can get that wrapped up a little more nicely.
There are a slew of characters in the Hooflands such as Regan’s centaur friends, Pansy and Chicory, and some that she encounters later on, the kelpie, Gristle, and the peryton, Zephyr. I really enjoyed these characters and loved their personalities but at the same time I still feel like I never really got to know them. This might have to do with the fact that this is wrapped up fairly quickly and is a short novella, however, I didn’t feel the same connection with the characters that I have with previous books. I did enjoy reading about Regan becoming a part of the family with the centaur herd that originally found her and it was very heartwarming for her to find a place she belonged.
What I Loved:
- Writing, gorgeous and well paced (as usual)
- All the horse related mythology!
- Regan is intersex
- Great overall themes of accepting yourself and anti-bullying
- Enjoyable characters
What I Didn’t Love:
- The ending, felt really depressing and abrupt
- Overall quest/adventure felt lacking
- I didn’t think the world was really built on a whole lot
- No ties to the rest of the Wayward Children series
Overall it’s still a great read especially if you have enjoyed any of the others in the series, this one stands completely on its own so you don’t need to read any of the others to give this one a go either. This one definitely isn’t my favorite in the series and I would even go as far as to say it’s my least favorite but I look forward to future installments as always!
Trigger Warnings: Misgendering, Intersexphobia, Bullying, Some Gore and Violence, & Abduction
**** Huge thank you to Tor.com for providing me with a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review ****