Trigger warning for grooming behavior.
All lost things have to go somewhere. Most of the time, it’s behind or under furniture, or in your other pair of pants, or left behind, or eaten by the dog. But what about the things that we never end up finding, even after we find a replacement (how I usually find things I’ve lost)? Seanan McGuire’s Lost in the Moment and Found, the eighth installment of the Wayward Children series of novellas, proposes that the things we lose and never find end up on the other side of a door, in an infinite junk shop. Our protagonist, Antsy, even manages to find her lost sense of safety in the junk shop.
Antsy is not a lucky child. When she’s a scant six years old, her father dies of a heart attack while on an outing with her. Within six months, her mother remarries to a man who makes Antsy’s skin crawl. Even if she can’t say what she doesn’t like about this man, it’s clear to us readers that this man is a monster. He drives a wedge between Antsy and her mother, making Antsy’s mother think that her daughter is a liar. And then he reveals why he wants no one to believe Antsy. I threw up a trigger warning for this book; so did Mcguire in the forward. But I want to assure fans of the series that nothing physical happens to Antsy.
On the night when Antsy’s stepfather reveals his purpose, Antsy bolts and, like the other Wayward Children in the series, finds a door that takes her somewhere unexpected. In Antsy’s case, that place is a seemingly infinite labyrinth containing everything ever lost (including pets!). The junk shop (for lack of a better term) is maintained by an old woman and a talking magpie. They spend their days cataloging and organizing the things that turn up in the shop and, when they get a chance, visiting other places when doors appear. Lacking anywhere else to go, Antsy signs on and finds that she has a gift for finding doors.
The premises of many of the worlds Wayward Children find themselves in sound charming—a world of sugar and animated desserts, a world of talking horses, a world of mermaids and sea creatures—but they are all dangerous, in their own way. The trick is figuring out what that danger is and if it’s worth the price of staying. I won’t reveal what the price is for Antsy. Instead, I’ll say that Lost in the Moment and Found is another fantastic entry in the series. McGuire has a gift for originality and creating psychologically complex characters of any age. I really wish this kind of honest young adult literature had been around when I was a young’un.