Beneath the Sugar Sky is the third book in the 'Wayward Children' series, but this is my first experience with Seanan McGuire's work.
Cora is a recent arrival at Eleanor West's home for Wayward Children. It is a boarding school for children who have come back through the looking glass or the wardrobe or the pond in the back garden and can't quite adjust to everyday reality. They desperately want to go back. Sometimes they do.
Cora's world was underwater, she lived as a mermaid and participated in wonderful adventures, but now she's back in a world where she's self-conscious about her body and obsesses a lot about what everyone must be thinking about her, the fat girl.
So she's self-absorbed. But, she is a teenager.
At the school Cora is beginning to settle in, despite the fact many of the other children are recovering from a horrific experience where a few of their peers murdered a girl to make their doorway reappear, and make friends. Suddenly, a girl in a gown made of cake drops from the sky and demands to see her mother. Her mother, Sumi, was the young girl who was murdered. She can't possibly have had a child so grown up.
McGuire takes us through the logic and unlogic of magical worlds and we follow five teens on a quest to bring Rini's mother back from the dead and save more than a few lives in the process.
I loved it. I read this in a single sitting and must at some point check out the previous books in the series, it has a fantastically diverse cast and settings and straddles horror and fantasy while maintaining a sense of wonder that's often missing from genre novels these days.