ARC Review: Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire

Book: Lost in the Moment and Found

Author: Seanan McGuire

Pages: 208

Source: NetGalley

Publisher: Tordotcom

Genre: Fantasy, Portal Fantasy, Novella

Publication Date: January 10, 2023

Goodreads Summary:

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:

I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book via NetGalley from Tordotcom. Thank you Tor!

My introduction to Seanan McGuire’s work came through my discovery of her Wayward Children series a few years ago.  Since then, I have steadily read through as much of her work as I could get my hands on.  So, every time I see a new book coming out by her, I do my best to get my hands on it.  Happily, Tordotcom gave me an ebook ARC on NetGalley, and I finished it in less than a day.

The Wayward Children series focuses on the stories of children who have gone through Doors.  These are the Doors we hear about in stories.  The Doors that lead to Alice’s adventures, the ones that lead to Neverland, and the ones that lead to more sinister places.  Not all children find the Doors, but the ones that do are asked to “Be Sure” before entering them. 

In the newest installment, Lost in the Moment and Found, Antoinette, or Antsy as she’s called by most, experiences her first loss while browsing the toy aisle in Target.  Her father collapses and dies from a heart attack when she’s just five years old.  In a matter of moments, her entire understanding of the world is upended, and she has to adjust to life without one of her favorite people in the world.

Her mother doesn’t take nearly as long to adjust.  Driven by loneliness and loss, she remarries to a man named Tyler.  Antsy immediately doesn’t like Tyler, although she’s too young to put why into words.  She watches him as he watches her, and everything appears to be fine until her mother announces she and Tyler are going to have a baby.  By this time Antsy is seven years old, and she’s become increasingly wary of Tyler.  When he finally attempts what Antsy has subconsciously feared, Antsy runs away from home.

She stops running long enough to realize she needs help.  She decides to go inside a thrift store and ask to use their phone to call her grandmother to come get her.  The words above the entrance ask her to “Be Sure.”  She’s sure she needs help, so she turns the knob and walks inside.  There she finds the world for Lost Things and becomes Lost herself.  It isn’t until a few years later that she realizes just how much she’s lost and what the Doors have cost her.

First of all, Seanan McGuire wrote an Author’s Note at the beginning of the book with some trigger warning for readers about parental gaslighting and grooming.  I like the trend in authors warning readers who may be sensitive to the contents of their books, and I hope it continues.  I was nervous to read about these issues, but her warning definitely helped. I kept it in mind as I read since I knew nothing too triggering would happen.

That being said, I am so glad Antsy ran away even if it cost her more than she realized to do so.  This story had a better outcome than many like hers do, and it was nice to see.  Of course, many of the Wayward Children books deal with issues of childhood abuse and neglect, and the Doors usually open onto worlds that are just right for the children in those moments.

Antsy’s Door is unique in that it opened onto a nexus world, which is a new concept for the series.  The Doors go there when they aren’t waiting expectantly for the children they’re watching.  So, Antsy is able to use these doors to visit many different worlds as long as the Door is propped open for her return.  This introduces us to new ideas that I am anxious to see used in subsequent entries in the series.

A big theme in this story is loss – loss of innocence, loss of childhood, and loss of intangible traits are all explored throughout Antsy’s experiences.  I liked the metaphor of what Antsy ends up paying to the Doors that McGuire used to represent the loss of childhood Antsy would have surely experienced if she hadn’t run from Tyler when she did.  The message that childhood is important and it’s loss is also important was still demonstrated without going into traumatic experiences too deeply.

Like many of the children throughout the series, though, Antsy makes her way back to her home world, but the changes she’s experienced while in the world of Lost Things makes it impossible for her to return to her mother.  She finds her way, like so many others, to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.  The story leaves us with Antsy at the door, so I’m hopeful we see more of her in further installments in the series.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story.  I liked it so much that, when I was a little over halfway through it, I went to the library after work and picked up the rest of the series to re-read over the coming weeks.  Antsy’s story explores losses that we all experience at one point or another in our lives.  The theme of loss throughout was handled in a unique and interesting way, and Seanan McGuire has a gift for exploring complex ideas and trauma in a captivating way.  This is definitely a series everyone should try to read.

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I gave Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire four out of five stars.  Like the rest of the books in the series, this installment explores life’s complications in a whimsical and emotional way.  Giving these children a means to escape their traumas and become something more, even if that something more isn’t always positive. With unique language and thought-provoking metaphors this story manages to explore these issues in a meaningful way while still being a great read.

Have you read any of the Wayward Children series?  What about Seanan McGuire’s other work?  Let me know in the comments!                                              

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