“Under a Smokestrewn Sky by A. Deborah Baker: Perfect Ending

Since stumbling from their world into the Up and Under, Avery and Zib have walked the improbable road across forests, seas and skies, finding friends in the unlikeliest of places and enemies great in number, as they make their way toward the Impossible City in the hope of finding their way home.

But the final part of their journey is filled with danger and demise. Not everyone will make it through unscathed. Not everyone will make it through alive.

The final part of the enchanting Up-and-Under quartet reminds us of the value of friendship and the price one sometimes pays for straying from the path. No-one’s safety can be guaranteed under the smokestrewn sky.

Writing as A. Deborah Baker, Seanan McGuire presents the final book in the Up-and-Under Series, “Under a Smokestrewn Sky” and it is the perfect ending to a fantastic series for young adult readers. Just as with the previous books, the author brings a unique language and voice that will make readers feel like you’ve been dropped into a fairytale. It’s a story where you might decide you don’t want to leave again and much like the characters, you will have to choose to stay or go. 

One of the elements I love the best about this series is the language and how stories are expressed, how reading as well as narrative is almost a meta point of view all on its own. The story feels like it’s woven of poetry and magic and the characters are unforgettable. It also is about the price of magic and friendship, about change and how we lose our innocence as we grow up. The ideas are rich and complex and will make you contemplate how we express ourselves and how we interpret the books that we read. 

If you love anything Seanan McGuire has written, you will love this series just as much. I do promise you will want to read the first three, it will make much more sense and resonate with you much more if you do. While some series you can skip the beginning, this is not that story as it has a carefully constructed arch. This story is the final book in the series and is not meant to be read separately. But they are also shorter and quick to read. And the conclusion of this series is worth the wait, as it ends as beautifully as it begins. It is one of the best stories I’ve read from the first book to the last. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 roads.

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