Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Note: While this review will be spoiler free, it will reference previous books. If you haven’t started this series yet, check out VBC’s review of book 1, Every Heart a Doorway.
Beneath the Sugar Sky takes readers back to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children after the events of Down Among the Sticks and Bones. Chronologically Sugar Sky takes place after Every Heart a Doorway, and starts with a girl who falls from the sky. Specifically, with Rini who comes from Confection and is looking for her mother Sumi, who was prophesized to be the one to save Confection from the evil Queen of Cakes.
The problem, however, is in this timeline; Sumi was murdered by Jill in Every Heart a Doorway. Without Sumi, Rini will definitely not be born and the Queen cannot be stopped. So Rini, along with four other children waiting to find their own doors back—their own way home—will have to figure out how to get Sumi back from a place where magic doesn’t exist.
Despite Seanan McGuire really stretching the boundaries of my understanding of the space-time continuum, while reading it all just seemed to make a sort of sense—despite Confection being a nonsensical world. Actually, one of my favorite things about this book was the fact that we were given further explanation of the various doors and because we traveled to a few places within the story we got to see the terminology in use (which was something I wanted explored more from the first book).
I loved the imagery we’re given with the contrast of each world visited. Earth, of course, as we’re familiar with it. Then there’s the Halls of the Dead where everything is monochrome with just hints of brilliant red, and lastly we have Confection which is a pop-color dream filled with cotton-candy sky, fields of candy corn with seas of strawberry soda. Yet beneath the surface there’s this darkness that looms. The idea that not everything is as perfect or ideal as may seem on the surface is one that Seanan McGuire has posited throughout this series. This is also the first time in the three books that we’ve had characters willingly traveling through doors instead of waiting for the doors to either pull them through or appear to where they can enter on their own. It adds another interesting layer to the mythology. The possibility that Earth itself might be someone’s door is briefly entertained as a flip-side to what we’ve learned and I definitely wouldn’t turn down a story where this idea is fleshed out a bit.
Sugar Sky ties the trilogy together quite nicely. The storyline is continued from the first book, after the second-book became the lead-in prequel, and we check back in with some familiar characters. It feels wrapped up, but I hope that Seanan McGuire continues to write in this world. There’s myriad possibilities for more stories. To top it off, Seanan McGuire’s writing and world-creation is top notch. This is one not to be missed.
Violent content: implied instances of self-harm.