ARC Review: Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

Across the Green Grass Fields (Wayward Children, #6)Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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…

Warnings: misgendering and hate against an intersex character, kidnapping and captivity

Across the Green Grass Fields is apart from the other books in Wayward Children in that the characters from Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children don’t make an appearance, nor does Regan seem to go there (yet). The basic premise, though, is about a girl who finds another world that suits her better, finds her home there, and is sent back to our world after a time. In this book, the main character Regan, a 10-year old girl, has learned from a young age about the importance of conformity if she wants to have friends – her best friend Laurel is a queen bee type who doesn’t tolerate deviations from her ideal of ‘girlhood’, and Regan has already seen the latter dump their other best friend Heather because she liked snakes. Regan, who is a girl who loves horses, and thus seemingly ‘normal’ for a girl’s hobbies, is feeling left out when her friends are moving on ahead with puberty and stuff while she doesn’t seem to change. When she finds out from her parents that she is intersex, she is understandably confused and has to take time to process it, but confiding in her best friend and being rejected by her leads her to running away from school, and she ends up in front of a door that takes her to the Hooflands.

Now, for a girl who loves horses, being in a land where all the residents are some sort of equine species – unicorns, centaurs, kelpies, kirin, etc – is a joyous incidence indeed. But the Hooflands have a long held legend about humans entering their world through doorways – they always are champions and heroes, who are brought to this world because they have some destiny to fulfil, after which they disappear. Regan, who is found by a herd of centaur farmers who rear unicorns (who are like cattle in this world, BTW), is instead folded into their family. She is also on the run from the Queen, whom she was supposed to be presented to as a champion at some time, but as her centaur family was concerned about letting such a young child be involved in some heroic quest, they instead run away with her and she lives out her childhood with her new best friend, Chicory, who is of age with her. The two of them form a close bond, and Regan starts to understand what is means to be accepted for yourself rather than having to conform to be accepted. She misses her parents (who were good parents, as opposed to other parents in this series) but she feels the Hooflands to be her home, and as long as she can avoid the destiny (which she doesn’t believe in) she can avoid being caught by another door.

In a reversal of tropes about heroic chosen ones, Regan’s story is more about her developing a connection to the land she is meant to save. Most of the story is about her life with the centaur herd, and not about an epic fight she is preparing for or something. The reveal about the human heroes was something I expected, and it being so late in the story works with the themes that the story was developing, sure, but I also felt that presenting the story in that way made it lose some of the tension, and threw off the already irregular pacing. Also, the end feels so incomplete because we don’t know what happens to Regan next, and how she fits in with the rest of the characters of the series (I don’t think I remember her being in the first book, though it has been a while since I read it).

As always, it is beautiful story about being different, and finding acceptance for it.

Is it diverse? intersex main character

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from, via Edelweiss.

Previous books in the Wayward Children series

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children, #1) Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2) Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3) In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4) Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5)

View all my reviews

Buy links

The Book Depository | Wordery

Releases on January 12, 2021

2 thoughts on “ARC Review: Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

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