December 19, 2020

Seanan McGuire: "Juice Like Wounds"

Title: Juice Like Wounds [on Goodreads]
Series: Wayward Children (Note: This is a short story set in the same world as In an Absent Dream - more precisely, a "side-quest" that is only mentioned in the eponymous book - and you can read it for free here. Chronologically book 4.5 in the series)
Author: Seanan McGuire [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural (technically it would be Portal Fantasy, but since I don't have a Fantasy Room on the blog, I decided to shelf this one as Supernatural - that's the closest I could get)
Year: 2020
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: An imaginative look-in-reverse at one of the most common fantasy tropes. Fills in a blank from In an Absent Dream. Gives the reader a different perspective on the Market and its rules.
Cons: Introduces a character we already know we'll lose, and too briefly for her death to have a huge impact.
WARNING! Graphic deaths/gore with children as perpetrators and victims.
Will appeal to: Fans of the Wayward Children series...past and future 😉.

Blurb: In the course of every great adventure there are multiple side-quests. All too often these go unreported, but occasionally we get another window into our heroes' world. In Juice Like Wounds we once again get to meet Lundy, and some of her companions. Lundy's main adventure is detailed in In an Absent Dream, and you should definitely read that. Before or after this tale is up to you. (Goodreads excerpt)

Review: You may ask - what's the point in reviewing a short story that also happens to be a free read? It's not like one has to decide if it's worth one's money or not. But since I'm reviewing the whole series, it just didn't seem right to leave this one out. Also, sorry for going all McGuire on you...again. But at least now I've caught up with reviewing all her book I've read so far bar one!

So, this is the story of Lundy and her Goblin Market friends Moon and Mockery, on their side-quest to defeat a monster. This is also the story that we didn't get while reading In an Absent Dream, though its tragic outcome caused Lundy to flee back to her birth world, at least for a while. For those of you who haven't read the book where these characters make they first appearance (I mean, as kids, since we met Lundy as an adult - so to speak - in Every Heart a Doorway), here's a snippet from my In an Absent Dream review that gives the gist of how their adopted world works:
The Goblin Market is based on the concept of "fair value", but that's not to say that it's an easy world to live in [...] There are rules, some even harsher than others we've seen enforced in the worlds we previously visited. If you don't return fair value, you're bound to lose your humanity - literally - one piece at a time, though you can always regain it.
The thing I loved more in this story is that it dares to question the very rules the world it's set in lives by - though by the mouth of the villain...but then again, is the creature/former human the girls are determined to free the Market from a real villain? or is it/she a victim? As harsh and unforgiving these alternate worlds can be, they rarely, if ever, doubt themselves - which makes sense, or they would probably unravel. I also liked what McGuire has to say about children and their penchant for heroism - or better, their confidence that they are fit to give a proper ending to any adventure left unfinished. I did appreciate the nuances of the different friendships the girls had with each other.
On the other hand, the emotional punch wasn't as strong as it was supposed to be, since there wasn't enough time to get attached to Mockery, the one who - as the reader knows since their first foray into the Goblin Market  - is destined to die. Of course she's just a kid, and for that sole reason her death would be tragic - but aside from that, we don't really care for her because it's her, if you know what I mean. Also, a lot of time was spent in setting the stage, so to speak, and the actual adventure was too short for my tastes (I mean, short stories are ALWAYS too short for me LOL - but especially this one). Anyhow, I would probably have rated JLW higher if a less skilled author - or an author I care for less - had written it. Not to mention, it quenched my curiosity about a "forgotten" chapter from In an Absent Dream, but then proceeded to fill me with longing for the origin story of the can McGuire please write a short story about that, too? 😁

For my "Skeleton Song" review (prequel short story) click here.
For my "Every Heart a Doorway" review (first installment in the series) click here.
For my "Down Among the Sticks and Bones" review (second installment in the series) click here.
For my "In Mercy, Rain" review (companion short story, following "Down Among the Sticks and Bones") click here.

For my "Beneath the Sugar Sky" review (third installment in the series) click here.
For my "In an Absent Dream" review (fourth installment in the series) click here.
For my "Come Tumbling Down" review (fifth installment in the series) click here.
For my "Across the Green Grass Fields" review 
(sixth installment in the series) click here.
For my "Where the Drowned Girls Go" review (seventh installment in the series) click here.
For my "Lost in the Moment and Found" review (eighth installment in the series) click here.
For my "Mislaid in Parts Half Known" review (ninth installment in the series) click here.
For more Supernatural books click here.


  1. I am impressed by how well you have received McGuire's short stories. They are rarely successful for me, yet this author seems to do a great job. Glad you are all caught up with McGuire's backlist and that it was such a great deep dive for you

    1. Oh, well, I've only read a fraction of her books LOL. She writes up a storm! But I only have one in my possession that I still have to review.

      I usually don't fare well with short stories either, but the Wayward Children series is made of novellas, and they're a much better fit for me. Anyhow, McGuire DOES deliver.

  2. I've read a couple of her books and lied them. This sounds pretty good too. Have a Merry Christmas.

    1. You too Mary! I hope it's not too rough, all things considered.

  3. I like that she has "side quest" short stories set in the same universe. And this - "I also liked what McGuire has to say about children and their penchant for heroism - or better,". That sounds interesting. Why do children and fantasy work so well? Whether it's Narnia or this universe or any of a zillion others- there's something about the innocence yet potential for heroism in kids. wow, that sounded pretentious, but you know what I mean lol.

    Anyway, nice review :)

    1. "there's something about the innocence yet potential for heroism in kids."
      There is! and she captures it perfectly.

      "wow, that sounded pretentious, but you know what I mean lol."
      Haha, nope, and I do! Also, thank you!

  4. There's definitely a point to reviewing free short stories! Still costs the reader time, even if not money. I also usually tend to feel short stories are, well, too short lol. It is hard to connect to a character and feel the full impact that quickly.

    1. "Still costs the reader time, even if not money."
      LOL, you're right. I didn't even think of that.

      I think I have no more than 3 collections of short stories that I truly like (4.5/5 stars). The format isn't always nice to characters.


Welcome to Offbeat YA! I love hearing from you and always - I mean always - acknowledge your comments. This used to be a full democracy place, because anyone could comment, regardless of being a registered member of any community. Unfortunately, I had to turn off the Anonymous comment option, because I was getting too much spam that didn't get filtered. So, you’ll need to have a Google account (Gmail will suffice) in order to comment. Sorry about that. Anyway, jump right in! Come on, you know you want to...😉 And be sure to leave a link!
BTW...I don't care if a post is a million months old - you comment, I respond. And you make my day 😃.
Note: this is an award/tag free blog. Sorry I can't accept nominations due to lack of time.

As per the GDPR guidelines, here's the link to my Privacy Policy.