Colleen Mondor Reviews Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire
Lost in the Moment and Found, Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom 978-1-250-21363-1, $21.99, 160pp, hc) January 2023. Cover by Robert Hunt.
Seanan McGuire continues her Wayward Children series with Lost in the Moment and Found, a story of a child who escapes what seems to be certain victimhood and finds safety (sort of) through one of McGuire’s mysterious world-hopping doors. The author places a warning to readers at the beginning of the book, reassuring them that the protagonist, Antoinette (‘‘Antsy’’), runs before anything happens to her. Those moments leading up to her escape are quite disturbing, however, and truly horrific in how quickly, and easily, they show that a child’s life can become imperiled.
Antsy is five years old when her father dies suddenly from a heart attack in the most pedestrian of locations: an aisle at Target. Stricken with grief, the little girl somehow adapts, survives, and carries on, along with her loving mother. Then, in a matter of months, her mother meets Tyler, and soon they are in love and soon after that they are married. Antsy does not trust her new stepfather – she suspects something is not quite right about how he looks at her; and he’s always looking at her. And then easily, with only the lightest of effort, Tyler begins to drive a wedge between mother and daughter. As young as she is, Antsy realizes what is going on, all the small ways in which her mother’s trust in her is being eroded. What she doesn’t understand is why Tyler would want to destroy that trust. Then, when she is seven, she finds out what Tyler wants, and that is the night that Antsy runs away.
With a plan to reach a phone and call her grandmother, Antsy ends up at a shopping center not far from home and opens the door to the Shop Where Lost Things Go. This is a junk shop like no other, however, operated by a talking magpie and an elderly woman who knows a great deal but shares relatively little. Antsy is safe but, until the doors decide she can return home, the shop is where she remains. In the meantime, along with sorting and cataloging the daily arrival of lost things, she learns that as a child, she is able to open other doors that appear in the shop and provide portals to….everywhere. Life continues this way, in safety and occasional excitement, for two years until Antsy finds a message from the shop, warning her that a price is demanded for that safety and without realizing it, she has been paying since the day she arrived. McGuire’s sublime writing will come as no surprise to her many fans, but she truly excels here at placing herself in the mind of a frustrated and furious child who cannot stand the perilous directions her life has taken. The tension-filled interactions with Tyler are frankly disturbing, not because they are graphic in any way, but because the communications are so damn believable. McGuire is unflinching in her portrayals of human interactions, from Antsy’s confusion in the crowded aisle as she sees her father die, to her silent appraisal of Tyler the night she runs away. Lost in the Moment and Found is imbued with the author’s deep sensitivity, as well as her sense of mystery and of adventure. Seanan McGuire is an exceptional writer, and the Wayward Children series continues to be a revelatory experience for readers old and new.
This review and more like it in the March 2023 issue of Locus.
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