Macmillan/ Tor/ St Martin's Press, 21 February 2023
Available as: HB, 160pp, e, audio
Source: Audio subscription
ISBN (HB): 9781250213631
Apologies that I haven't given clear publisher details above - frankly, even eight books in, I'm still rather hazy about the identity of the publisher, or whether Lost in the Moment and Found is officially published in the UK at all. (It is certainly available as audio, which is how I read it).
Even after eight books, and several shorts, McGuire continues to break new ground with these stories. Lost in the Moment and Found is the story of Antsy, a young girl who, early on, seems in real peril from an adult. I don't want to spell out the nature of this, and would refer readers to the author's note - but I will say that McGuire handles the issue with great delicacy, never spelling out in the text what may happen but making it totally clear that someone here is trying to cross lines that ought not to be.
Anyway, long story short, Antsy is threatened and runs away. And she finds a Door. Readers of this series will know that Doors can lead to some wonderful places and take people to worlds that will welcome them, worlds they will fit with - but Antsy doesn't need a whole world, does she, she just needs a safe place where lost things such as her can be cherished?
That need perhaps takes us deeper than we have yet been into what I might call Doorology - the principles and workings of the Doors - why they appear (or don't), where they go - and the cost of using them. There have been some hints of that, but not, yet, a full account. Perhaps this still isn't a full account, but we do learn a lot, as does Antsy. It's frustrating to be writing this review because I don't want to give away all the magic, but I will say that this story raises questions about Doorology as well as providing answers and shows that things can go wrong, especially where fallible adults take a hand.
Antsy is especially raw where fallible adults are concerned and I have to say, my heart almost rose to my mouth when I understood the situation that she gets into here. Reading some of the earlier books I've been tempted to think, count me in, when one of Wayward Children finds their world (mine would be The Moors, or course). Lost in the Moment and Found presents a much darker take That corrective was probably due - it's too easy to think that everything will be write if you only step into the right world. I think McGuire's message has always been a bit subtler than that, to be fair, but Lost in... addresses this aspect the most clearly of any so far. I think.
Which is not to say it isn't fun. It's fun! There is wonder! There is joy! Like all these books, there are several levels of meaning, and simple, mischievous, childlike (NB childlike, not childish) amazement is part of the package too.
And while standalone, there are also callouts to the other boys, and eventually, a like of coming-home-but-not that promised more of Antsy and perhaps hints that some of those unresolved questions will be revisited and, er, resolved.
For more details about Lost in the Moment and Found here is the US Macmillan page for the book.