Lost In The Moment And Found: Wayward Children 8 by Seanan McGuire (book review)

There are many enjoyable series of novels in all genres but, occasionally, there comes along one that that is totally original and catches the attention of all who read it. The ‘Wayward Children’ series is one of these delightful rarities. ‘Lost In The Moment And ‘Found’ is the eighth book in a series which doesn’t repeat itself.

There are always children who are different and who feel they don’t fit in. For them, there may be a Door which opens for them. On the other side is a world that may be better suited to their nature. Sometimes, they return through the door into the world they originally left. For any reader who has followed this series, they will know that there is a school, Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. In many of the volumes, this is where the children who pass through the Doors often end up, often sent by their parents to be cured of their fantasy of visiting another world. That is not what the school is about. This volume is different from those that have gone before.

The focal character is Antsy. She is a hyperactive child and in the present climate would probably be diagnosed with ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but she has loving parents. That is, until she loses her father. Every Saturday, Antsy and her father go to a big toy store where she can explore. Then, when she is five, her father has a heart attack and dies during they weekly visit, leaving behind a very bewildered child. Children are resilient and she might have learnt to accept the loss, except that her mother met and married another man. Antsy didn’t like him but she couldn’t exactly explain why. Then her step-father, Tyler, starts making out that she is a liar, putting a wedge between Antsy and her mother. Antsy begins to feel more and more excluded after her sister is born and they move to a new house. Although the reader will understand that Antsy is being groomed, all the child knows is that she must get away from Tyler. So she runs.

Antsy finds herself outside a junk shop, with ‘Be Sure’ scrawled over the door. Antsy goes in and finds herself inside a shop where lost things go. She is greeted by Hudson, a talking magpie, and later meets Vineta, the old woman who seems to run the place. Antsy finds that she cannot find the Door to take her home, but there are many Doors to other worlds which she visits with Vineta to buy supplies. Occasionally, someone comes to claim a lost thing. What she isn’t told is that there is a price to pay for opening a Door and passing through it. Only when she discovers this can she begin to find herself and the place where she belongs.

This is a book that can be read on a number of levels. Since the Wayward children are usually in their teens when we meet them, this could be regarded as a good, thoughtful adventure of a young person, losing her place in the world and finding that there is a place where she belongs. At the same time, the book touches of serious issues. While most step-parents are caring, loving adults concerned for the welfare of their new family, there are occasionally adults whose motives are suspect and who will manipulate those around them for their own gratification. Antsy was unlucky. She is confronted with the trauma of the death of her father and, before she is fully able to come to terms with that, she has a strange man inserting himself into the family, a new sister and a new home, none of which, at the age of five, she cannot cope with. Then to be exposed to the gaslighting and grooming Tyler exposes her to, it is no wonder that she feels lost. Passing through the Door into the shop is a refuge. Not all children in her situation will find that. The first part of the book dealing with these issues is powerfully written. The second half doesn’t have quite the same passion but both parts together make an excellent if challenging, whole and worthy of anyone’s time.

Pauline Morgan

May 2023

(pub: TorDotCom, New York, 2023. 146 page hardback.Price: $21.99 (US), $28.99 (CAN), £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-250-21363-1)

check out website: www.tor.com

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