Review: Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire

Review: Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuireLost in the Moment and Found (Wayward Children, #8) by Seanan McGuire
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genres: fantasy, portal fantasy, urban fantasy, young adult
Series: Wayward Children #8
Pages: 160
Published by Tordotcom on January 10, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook DepositoryBookshop.org
Goodreads

A young girl discovers an infinite variety of worlds in this standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Wayward Children series from Seanan McGuire, Lost in the Moment and Found.
Welcome to the Shop Where the Lost Things Go.

If you ever lost a sock, you’ll find it here.If you ever wondered about favorite toy from childhood... it’s probably sitting on a shelf in the back.And the headphones that you swore that this time you’d keep safe? You guessed it….
Antoinette has lost her father. Metaphorically. He’s not in the shop, and she’ll never see him again. But when Antsy finds herself lost (literally, this time), she finds that however many doors open for her, leaving the Shop for good might not be as simple as it sounds.
And stepping through those doors exacts a price.
Lost in the Moment and Found tells us that childhood and innocence, once lost, can never be found.

My Review:

If you’ve ever wondered where the odd socks or the missing Tupperware lids go, well, that’s where Antsy finds herself on the other side of that door. The Shop Where the Lost Things Go. Which is completely, totally and utterly appropriate, because Antsy is certainly lost herself. And has lost herself, along with some things that she wasn’t aware of, like her belief that adults would keep her safe, along with her innocence of all the horrors the world has to offer.

In that shop she finds two “people”, the intelligent magpie Hudson and the old woman Vineta. She also finds safety, purpose and the joy of discovery, not just by helping in the shop but by venturing out into all the new doors that open every morning leading out of the shop to worlds of wonder.

It’s a good, happy, fulfilling life. It’s the life she might have chosen for herself, if only she knew it was available to choose. But she thinks she’s paying for her safety and her happiness, along with her room and board, through her work in the shop AND in venturing through the various doors to help keep it stocked.

And she is. But not in the way that she believes she is. Perhaps in a way she might have chosen anyway – perhaps not. But the choice was taken away from her because the magic of the Doors didn’t want her to know – and knows just how to punish her when she discovers the terrible truth.

Escape Rating A-: Considering that the author spoils this in an Author’s Note at the very front of the book, I don’t feel at all bad about doing it here as well. Because honestly, if she hadn’t told me up front that Antsy was going to rescue herself from the grooming, gaslighting monster in her own house I wouldn’t have made it through the first chapter.

Other strange, wondrous and terrible things happen to Antsy after she gets herself through that door marked “Be Sure”, but that particular horror is NOT among them. After all, this is a book about the Wayward Children and many of those children have passed through some very dark places. Antsy will not be an exception.

But be both warned and reassured – she will get herself out of that first, most terrible place. And all the terrible and wonderful things that happen to her in the story are able to happen because she was able to get herself out and onto the road that leads her to this story.

Antsy’s story is about everything having a price, a realization that is part of everyone’s loss of innocence. At seven, as Antsy is when she steps through that door, while her loss of some innocence is what made her run in the first place, she’s still naive enough not to realize that prices can be levied even when one is not aware that a bargain has been struck.

For an adult, the price of most things is often simply that we never get to know what might have been down the road less taken or the other leg of the trousers of time. Some costs are more explicit, whether it’s the choice of a profession of service that may cost one’s life, a decision to or not to have children, or even the famous one posited by Benjamin Franklin, that, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” But we generally know the bargain we’re making when we make it – or at least we think we do.

When Antsy opens the door to The Shop Where the Lost Things Go, and starts opening all the fascinating doors that open within the shop to all those fascinating places, she too is making a bargain and paying a price for it. But she’s only seven years old, she’s lost, alone and scared, and not nearly savvy enough to understand that the price she’s paying may or may not be something she’s willing to give.

But it’s not an unknown price. Both Vineta and Hudson are perfectly aware of what Antsy is giving away, even though she is not. They are all too aware that they are using her for their own purposes – and choose not to tell her, not even when she matures enough to understand.

In a way, the woman and the bird are using Antsy just as much as someone in her original world intended to use her. Which intent was worse or more heinous is one the reader will have to decide for themselves.

What’s fascinating about Antsy’s trip through the Doors is the way that the Doors are revealed to be much closer to full sentience than was apparent in the earlier stories. Antsy’s door took her to the Shop because that’s where the Doors wanted her to go. And they’ve deliberately obscured her awareness of what’s happening to her because the Doors want her to stay – no matter what it will cost her.

That they have the wherewithal to punish her when she tries to break free is a shock – both to Antsy and to the reader. It makes us rethink some of the events of the previous books in the series and quite possibly makes the whole thing more dark and even less of a lark than it previously appeared to be.

Which won’t stop me from reading the next book in the series, still untitled but scheduled for publication next January. In the meantime, I still have one previous book to read, Come Tumbling Down, and quite possibly a re-read of the whole marvelous thing now that I know a whole lot more about the Doors and their universe work – although I’m certain there’s more to discover.

This award winning series began with Every Heart a Doorway, which means it starts at the end of a whole bunch of the Wayward Children’s stories. Lost in the Moment and Found ends in the place if not the time where that story begins, and would be a perfect place to get into the series if you haven’t already found your way to the reading door that leads to it. Wherever you begin, it’s an awfully wonderful journey, particularly in the sense that it is chock-full of both awe and wonder.

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