Across the Green Grass Fields
Another piece of Hugo reading done. This is the one novella from this year’s ballot that I hadn’t read. It is, of course, another book in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series. This one is not set in Eleanor West’s school, and it works pretty well as a stand-alone.
Across the Green Grass Fields features a horse-mad girl called Regan Lewis who runs away from home and ends up in a place called The Hooflands. I was a little nervous at first because the thing that causes Regan to flee is discovering that she is intersex, and foolishly blurting that fact out at school. However, this is not a book about being intersex. It has very different concerns.
The Hooflands are inhabited by all manner of hoofed beasts from mythology. There are unicorns, of course, but also centaurs, fauns, kelpies, kirin, hippogriffs and perytons. The latter are winged stags, which had me confused for a while. Apparently they were invented by Borges for his Book of Imaginary Beings. Good choice, Seanan!
Regan falls in with a small herd of centaurs who herd unicorns. Some hoofed beings, it seems, are intelligent, while others are just animals. She makes friends with the only foal in the centaur family, a girl called Chicory. This gives her the opportunity to grow up free of school bullies and foolish parents. However, it is clear from the start that she has a Destiny.
Humans are not a natural part of the Hooflands. How could they be, they have no hooves? But every so often one appears. When one does, this is a signal that the land is in great danger. The human will be a hero and save everyone, and then disappear back to their own world.
Well, that’s the theory. The reality is a little more complicated than that. This is where we discover that the book is actually about what it means to be a hero and a saviour. I suspect that most white readers, especially white women readers, will miss the point, but it is there nevertheless.
For those who are oblivious to the politics, this is a fun and easy read. It also has some beautiful Rovina Cai illustrations. Probably not a winner, though.
Title: Across the Green Grass Fields
By: Seanan McGuire
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