Beneath the Sugar Sky is the third book in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series. There will be some spoilers for book one, Every Heart A Doorway in this review. The series centers around the students and faculty at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. A school for children who have gone through magical doorways into other worlds (e.g. Narnia and Wonderland), and then come back for some reason. They are having a hard time adjusting to life in the “real” world and wind up at the school. After the first book, each subsequent story takes place in one of these magical worlds. The third installment centers on Rini, who arrives from a nonsense world where everything is made from some sort of confection looking for her mother Sumi. Unfortunately Sumi was murdered in the first book, before Rini was even born. If she doesn’t find a way to restore her mother before Reality notices her absence. Rini will fade from existence and the evil Queen of Cakes will take over the land of Confection.
I have to say, I enjoyed this book the least of all the Wayward Children’s books so far. It was still good, but I would definitely not be sent to the land of Confection if a were I a Wayward Child. It’s largely based in nonsense with little logic and is the most childish of the worlds we have seen so far. For you former Gen X kids, imagine going to Strawberry Shortcake’s homeland as an adult. Additionally, I listened to this on audiobook and I found the narrator’s version of Rini’s voice to be kind of grating. What I’m saying is that the overall story is good. There were just aspects of it that annoyed me personally, so your mileage may vary with this book.
Despite my complaints, this is a fine addition to the Wayward Children series and introduces us to some fun new characters who I expect will appear in future books. But that’s the advantage that readers have over the book’s protagonists. If you’re not happy in one world, you can always explore the next one.