Discovering Seanan McGuire

It started with a book recommendation.

A simple list of recommended reads by a fellow book blogger (sorry I can’t give you a shout-out, but I can’t remember where I saw the list).

While several of them sounded interesting, Every Heart a Doorway  by Seanan McGuire leapt out at me.

I had never heard of Seanan McGuire, so decided to pick up a copy and give it a shot.

Every Heart a Doorway is book 1 in the Wayward Children series, so that seemed as good a place to start as any.

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Wayward Children series

Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a school for the children who come back after visiting fantasy worlds? Much like Alice, these children slipped through secret doorways, climbed through the back of a wardrobe, or tumbled down a rabbit hole.

These children no longer fit in with their families or the “real” world. They want nothing more than to return to their fantasy lives but, for whatever reason, can’t go back.

That’s where Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children comes in: a safe haven for these children until they can readjust.  And sometimes, not often but sometimes, the lucky ones get to return to their fantasy lives.

Picked up Every Heart a Doorway at the library and loved it! That led to Down Among the Sticks and Bones about Jack and Jill, twin girls who made their way down an impossible stairway to a land of mad scientists and vampires. The Moors sounded like a horror film, but the girls fit right in!

Down Among the Sticks and Bones led to the next in the series, Beneath the Sugar Sky. Rini comes to the Home in search of her mother, Sumi. Only trouble is, Sumi was murdered in the first book!

Lucky that they come from a land of Nonsense! All Rini has to do is restore her mother so that Sumi can return to Nonsense, get married, and give birth to Rini! And oh yeah, save the world. No big deal.

In An Absent Dream is the final book in the series, although another is supposedly in the works (maybe in 2020?). This one is a prequel of sorts featuring Lundy, one of the Home’s professors. Lundy’s fantasy world was built on logic and reason, where every trade has a fair price in the goblin market. Then Lundy makes a trade she really shouldn’t have…

Finished with the Wayward Children series, I moved on to the Ghost Road books.

Ghost Road series

The first book in the Ghost Road series is Sparrow Hill Road. A collection of short stories, it centers around hitchhiking ghost Rose.

An urban legend known as the phantom prom date, the girl in the green silk gown, the girl in the diner, and various other names, it turns out that “truth” is stranger than fiction.

Rose Marshall was a teenage girl on her way to the prom. Thinking that her prom date had ditched her, she decided to drive there herself. Unfortunately for Rose, Bobby Cross ran her off the road.

Bobby had made a deal with the Crossroads for everlasting youth and immortality, and needed Rose’s soul to fuel his demon car. Rose was the one who got away and has been running from Bobby ever since.

While Sparrow Hill Road is a short story collection, The Girl in the Green Silk Gown is an actual novel.

Rose is still doing her best to keep out of Bobby’s way in The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, but Bobby has come up with a plan to get Rose once and for all. So now it’s time for Rose to fight back!

Really like Rose and hope that Seanan brings her back for another book!

Indexing series

This two book series introduces us to the ATI Management Bureau, a government agency tasked with keeping the world safe from fairy tales.

It turns out that not only are fairy tales real, they don’t care who gets hurt while  trying to force people into their stories. Called memetic incursions, fairy tales try to force their narratives onto often unwilling victims. That’s where the ATI comes in!

The Bureau is set up like any other government agency with field teams, researchers (called archivists), dispatch, management, etc. They even have an HR department!

Henrietta is in charge of one of the field teams. She’s a Snow White who hasn’t been pulled fully into her story. Yet.

Sloane is a Wicked Stepsister fighting her story, while their archivist Jeff is an elf from the Elves and the Shoemaker fairy tale.

Andy is fully human with no ties to the Narrative. The newest member of their team is Demi, a fully activated Pied Piper.

Both books have each chapter set up as a separate “case”, with a best-guess on the type of Narrative and its current status. I thought this was a clever way to showcase the chapters.

The team tries to avert disaster by stopping the Narrative from becoming fully active. Sometimes they’re able to stop the story from gaining a foothold, but sometimes the story wins and they have to deal with the resulting collateral damage.

InCryptid Series

Keeping with my tradition of accidentally reading series out of order, I read the newest book in the InCryptid series, That Ain’t Witchcraft. Book 9 will be released in February, 2020.

I really enjoyed getting to know Annie and her world, so looking forward to reading this series! From the beginning, of course.

The Covenant of St. George was founded to uphold one simple ideal: anything that was not present on the Ark – anything they deemed “unnatural” – needed to be destroyed.

Monsters. Creatures of myth and legend. All of them would be wiped from the Earth in the name of Man’s dominion.

Unfortunately for them, not all the monsters agreed with this plan…and neither did all the human beings.

After their rather abrupt departure from the Covenant, Alexander and Enid Healy found themselves alone in the world, but with a simple mission of their own: to protect the cryptids of the world from those who would harm them without just cause.

It was a cause that would eventually claim both their lives, leaving their children, and their childrens’ children, to take up the fight. Now in the modern day, their descendants struggle to stay beneath the Covenant’s radar, while defending the cryptids from humanity – and humanity from the cryptids. (website)

October Daye Series

This is the only series that I haven’t read yet. It’s also Seanan’s largest series, with the release of the 13th book in September, 2019.

It’s on my list.

Faerie has always been with us. The fairy tales, ballads, and folklore of the mortal world are only shadows of the true, sometimes terrible reality of the fae.

They survive in secrecy, keeping their Courts in the places where the light doesn’t fall, existing in parallel to the world we know. They aren’t human. They don’t want to be. But sometimes they take human lovers, and sometimes, those unions are fertile ones.

Changelings aren’t stolen children; they’re mortal halfbreeds born where the fae and human worlds collide, never able to fully belong to either, outsiders from birth.

The October Daye books follow the adventures of October “Toby” Daye as she tries to find her footing in a world that seems a little more interested in killing her than she’d like. (website) 

Final Thoughts

I can’t get over how I’ve never heard of Seanan McGuire before!

She’s an incredibly talented writer and her books are right up my alley! She comes up with interesting characters, her stories are fast-paced enough that I don’t get bored, and boy can she write!

The Wayward Children series are all small books, so you can binge them over a weekend! Sometimes you just need a fast read, so these fit the bill perfectly.

Ghost Road takes the urban legend of the hitchhiking ghost and spins several stories out of Rose’s adventures. Never thought of using an urban legend as inspiration, but what a fantastic idea!

If you like short stories, you’ll probably love the Indexing series! Each chapter reads like a short story, so I was able to pick up these books for a quick read whenever I was short on time.

As for the InCryptid and October Daye series, well, they’re all now on my wish list. From what I’ve seen, I’m going to love these two series just as much as I love the others!

Have you ever read any of Seanan’s books? Would love to hear if you have a favorite! And by the way, if you have read them, why didn’t you tell me about these awesome books!?!

About the Author:

Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire (pronounced SHAWN-in) was born in Martinez, California, and raised in a wide variety of locations, most of which boasted some sort of dangerous native wildlife.

Despite her almost magnetic attraction to anything venomous, she somehow managed to survive long enough to acquire a typewriter, a reasonable grasp of the English language, and the desire to combine the two.

The fact that she wasn’t killed for using her typewriter at three o’clock in the morning is probably more impressive than her lack of death by spider-bite.

Often described as a vortex of the surreal, many of Seanan’s anecdotes end with things like “and then we got the anti-venom” or “but it’s okay, because it turned out the water wasn’t that deep.”

She has yet to be defeated in a game of “Who here was bitten by the strangest thing?,” and can be amused for hours by almost anything. “Almost anything” includes swamps, long walks, long walks in swamps, things that live in swamps, horror movies, strange noises, musical theater, reality TV, comic books, finding pennies on the street, and venomous reptiles.

Seanan may be the only person on the planet who admits to using Kenneth Muir’s Horror Films of the 1980s as a checklist.

In her spare time, Seanan records CDs of her original filk music. She is also a cartoonist, and draws an irregularly posted autobiographical web comic, “With Friends Like These…”, as well as generating a truly ridiculous number of art cards.

Surprisingly enough, she finds time to take multi-hour walks, blog regularly, watch a sickening amount of television, maintain her website, and go to pretty much any movie with the words “blood,” “night,” “terror,” or “attack” in the title.

Most people believe she doesn’t sleep.

Seanan lives in an idiosyncratically designed labyrinth in the Pacific Northwest, which she shares with her cats, Alice and Thomas, a vast collection of creepy dolls and horror movies, and sufficient books to qualify her as a fire hazard.

She has strongly-held and oft-expressed beliefs about the origins of the Black Death, the X-Men, and the need for chainsaws in daily life.

Years of writing blurbs for convention program books have fixed Seanan in the habit of writing all her bios in the third person, so as to sound marginally less dorky. Stress is on the “marginally.” It probably doesn’t help that she has so many hobbies. (official bio)

Where to find Seanan:  Facebook | Twitter | Website

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2 thoughts on “Discovering Author Seanan McGuire (and her wonderful books!)

  1. OOH You are wicked for leading me into such temptation. I have to admit several of these books (Every Heart a Doorway – if not necessarily the rest of the books in the series – and the October Daye Series in particular) really appeal to me.

    1. Sorry Tracy! I know your TBR pile is probably large enough already, but these are totally worth it! Promise! And I’ve found that her books are like potato chips for me – I can’t read just one! lol

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