Title: Across the Green Grass Fields
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Themes: Friendship, Bullying, Intersex, Acceptance,
Publication Date: January 12, 2021
Ten-year-old Regan has loving parents and two best friends. That is, until one of her best friends, Laurel, ditches the other for stepping outside Laurel’s idea of what a girl should act like. Regan decides to stick with unkind Laurel and shares a secret with her. However, true to her nature, this “friend” is not sympathetic.
As Regan rushes home, she is abruptly confronted with a doorway. A doorway that states, “Be Sure.” Stepping through this doorway, she enters a magical land with fantastical creatures. Due to being the only human, though, she must fulfill her destiny at some point during her lengthy visit. She soon discovers that this heroic quest isn’t what it first appeared to be.
This was a book that I read with a couple of online book lovers, like myself. It was one that I was looking forward to and one that was super quick to read.
I love reading books with children as protagonists and love to watch them grow and realize that life isn’t just black and white. This is probably because I can pinpoint the time of my life when I first realized the world isn’t just butterflies and roses. Though my experience is different than Regan’s, we were around the same age – ten years old. Mine was reading Number the Stars and learning about the horrors of World War II; Regan’s is learning not only something about herself that she never knew, but realizing that her best friend isn’t actually as loyal as she once thought. Though I feel Laurel needs not only a reality check and clearly better role models in her life, I truly could not stand her. It was so blatantly obvious to me that she would turn her back on Regan so quickly. However, I’m an adult and Regan was only ten at the time.
The author creates this interesting magical world where centaurs, unicorns, and kelpies are present. It’s a world where Regan feels accepted and learns that she is loved for who she is and she returns that love easily and freely. I did enjoy being in this world for the most part. It was funny learning about the centaurs’ relationship with the unicorns, and it was interesting to read about the kelpies. Though I will say that until the end, the fulfilling destiny part was a bit odd. It seemed both urgent and not at the same time, which then you would think that the creatures of this world would question the necessity of Regan’s fulfillment of this destiny. If it’s so urgent, then why can Regan wait literally years before doing anything about it? As I said, it’s clearer at the end, but it was a bit frustrating along the way how every creature just had this blind image of what humans that enter their world need to do and never question it.
Speaking of the ending, I did like most of the ending. Without giving much away, I enjoyed learning about the queen of the land and what humans who fulfill their destiny need to do. At the same time, I’m not sure how I feel about the last few pages. Regan’s journey is somewhat resolved, but it also left room for readers to guess what will become of this now teenage girl. In general, I’m not a fan of open-to-interpretation endings.
With the story being told in just Regan’s point-of-view, the reader gets to her extremely well. Even though she makes the decision, as a young child, to continue her friendship with someone who is clearly unkind, it’s plain to see that all Regan wants is to be loved and accepted, however misguided her friendship may be. She is a sweet character and toward the end, a strong and brave one.
Overall, I enjoyed most of the read with the exception of how naive the magical creatures were and the bit of an open ending. If there are more to come in this series, I do plan on continuing on.
For those who would enjoy a bit of a quirky read about a young girl befriending and living with magical creatures, then this might be for you!