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Beneath the Sugar Sky: 01/11/19

Beneath the Sugar Sky

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire is the third in the Wayward Children series. This particular volume reminds me of Catherynne M. Valente's fairyland series, in particular September's uhoric relationship to Saturday.

The story opens back at Eleanor West's Home for Wayward children, shortly after the death of Sumi, meaning it is chronologically next to Every Heart a Doorway.

Out in the fields, a naked young woman crashes to earth. She says her name is Rini and she claims to be Sumi's daughter. But her mother died before she could even be conceived, so she has come to bring her mother back to life.

Rini's story is also very similar to that of the Winchesters in Supernatural. She has a family member, her mother, who shouldn't be dead yet, and she is going to journey across worlds to bring her back. In the process, she's going to fix her homeland — a cake based world called Confection that might as well be the Bubblegum kingdom, except that is on a planetary scale.

So while Rini could be argued to be an orphan, as she hasn't even been born yet in this timeline, I'm counting her and her "mostly-dead" mother as a family for the sake of defining the traveler in this road narrative spectrum story.

Although Rini's timeline isn't chronological, or rather, she's working on personal time that doesn't match with the Wayward School students', the ultimate destination is a utopia. Specifically, it's Confection, her home. Per her version of things, Sumi saved Confection from the current person ruling over it. But with her mother dead, Confection is slipping into a dystopian state.

Keep in mind, though, that Rini's desire to safe Confection and return it to it's freer condition, isn't what makes it a utopic destination. It is the fact that it is a fantasy world that is reachable through a certain door and that it runs on its own rules (namely baking metaphors). Utopia is a "no-place" not an especially good place.

Finally, there is the road taken to get to Confection. Though the path is varied, it is through the cornfield. Rini's landing is in the fields or gardens of the school. The first leg of the journey involves a trip to the land of the dead, which as we've seen through Lowriders to the Center of the Earth is the association of corn, cornfields, and corn mazes with the underworld. Then there is Confection itself, which is a bakery based world and ecosystem. That means, wheat, sugarcane, corn, among other farmed ingredients, albeit rendered into their foodstuff forms.

Placement of the three novels on the road narrative spectrum

Looking at the progression of the series across the spectrum, the book three has slipped into horror. It does this through the travelers being a family. The horror element is a family ripped apart before it has even had time to be formed. When the series started it was pure fantasy that used road narrative tropes. For the second book, which is a backstory, it stayed in the fantasy end, but moved into the same neighborhood as the Supernatural series: namely that of siblings traveling across worlds.

The next book in the series is In an Absent Dream (2019). I have a copy ordered and will read it as soon as it arrives.

Five stars

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