I think that Across the Green Grass Fields, the sixth Wayward Children novella, might be the first fully stand-alone story set in the same world as the previous six. This had so much potential and the world that Regan wanders into is fascinating. Problem is that there is so little plot, not much world or character development, and the whole thing feels kind of rushed. The basic premise is still there; not long after a major personal trauma the protagonist finds a door to a mysterious place that involves the phrase “Be Sure” before crossing the threshold which protagonist does without fully understanding, at least not until much later. Regan has a toxic best friend who utterly rejects her for coming out as intersex, and she ends up in a world of various horse creatures including centaurs, unicorns, kelpies, and perytons (sort of like pegasi) called Hooflands. There are hints about the social structures and politics of the world that could be so intriguing especially with the whiff of Gulliver’s Travels.
But once everything is mostly set up, there’s a big time skip of several years and Regan has little desire to go back to her original home, although her family is one of the better ones in this series, and she’s built a place for herself in this world that seems to view humans as saviors. They (humans) occasionally show up, save the world, and then disappear. This too could have been so much more than just an excuse for the lesson ‘don’t wait to be saved; try saving yourself’.
I realize the novella form in general has limits because of its length, but there is just so much more, even just one piece, that this could have been so much more amazing. It’s frustrating too that it’s probably unlikely that this world or character will come back, but at least I can try and imagine how Regan would react to the character group and the school that features so heavily in the first novellas in the series; I doubt this mostly because one of the main things about these novels is that they do seem to like leaving major questions open, never to be addressed directly. There’s also the fact that this is a fairly recent release, meaning that the next book even if it did come back to Regan and/or Hooflands, is unlikely to be coming out for some time. The only sliver of hope is that Seanan McGuire is very open about her deep love of My Little Pony, so maybe there’s still some tiny chance that this world might get some more attention some day. Fingers crossed.