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Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children) Hardcover – June 13, 2017
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"McGuire has a miraculous talent for examining adolescent discontent, wedding the strange with the poignant, the fearsome with the fascinating." ―RT Book Reviews Top Pick, 4 1/2 stars
“Beautifully crafted and smartly written, this fairy-tale novella is everything that speculative fiction readers look for: fantastical worlds, diverse characters, and prose that hits home with its emotional truths." ―Library Journal starred review
"Exquisitely crafted, this is the rare companion novel that can stand alone." ―Booklist starred review.
"Down Among the Sticks and Bones has the voice and rhythm of a fairy tale... It is vividly characterised, as so much of Seanan McGuire’s work is, and has the kind of prose that carries you along to find out what happens next." ―Locus
"McGuire’s exquisitely written fairy tale is about the choices that can alter the course of a life forever, lost innocence, and what it is to love and be loved." ―Publishers Weekly starred review
PRAISE FOR EVERY HEART A DOORWAY:
"A mini-masterpiece of portal fantasy that deserves to be shelved with Lewis Carroll's and C. S. Lewis' classics." ―NPR
"Seanan McGuire has long been one of the smartest writers around, and with this novella we can easily see that her heart is as big as her brain. We know this story isn't true, but it is truth." ―Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series (TV's True Blood)
"This is a gorgeous story: sometimes mean, sometimes angry, and always exciting." ―Cory Doctorow for BoingBoing
"McGuire's lyrical prose makes this novella a rich experience." ―Library Journal, starred review
"So mindblowingly good, it hurts." ―io9
"This gothic charmer is a love letter to anyone who's ever felt out of place." ― Publishers Weekly
"This gothic novel is ideal for fantasy fans who have longed for a world of their own, as well as readers looking for books with diverse casts." ―Bookish
“Girl Interrupted meets Grimm's Fairy Tales. Let it in and it will touch your heart and open your mind.” ―Geek Syndicate
About the Author
SEANAN McGUIRE is the author of the October Daye urban fantasy series, the InCryptid series, the Wayward Children series, and other works. She also writes darker fiction as Mira Grant.
Seanan lives in Seattle with her cats, a vast collection of creepy dolls, and horror movies, and sufficient books to qualify her as a fire hazard.
She was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and in 2013 she became the first person ever to appear five times on the same Hugo ballot.
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Much like the previous installment, McGuire focuses in on the stark contrast between fantasy and reality—how easy and freeing it can be to escape into fantasy, and the pains of suddenly being forced back into the real world. It tackles the subject of self-discovery and breaking away from the labels that society and even the people who are supposed to have our best interests at heart put on us. Even with the fantastical elements, at its core, this story is a highly relatable depiction of what every single one of us has gone through or will go through in our lives—the universal idea of finding oneself and being accepted.
Unlike the first novel, we get a chance to fully dive into one of those fantasy worlds from which the wayward children come back, making this an incredibly unique and utterly captivating story. It honestly could work perfectly as a standalone, but is definitely most interesting in the context of the rest of the series. I didn’t think I could love these books or Seanan McGuire’s writing any more than I did already, but this novel completely proved me wrong.
In this novel, we jump back in time to explore the experiences of two previous side characters—twins Jacqueline and Jillian—in their formative years, both with their family and during their time in the Moors, their alternate world. The two girls are brought up in the strictly regimented lives of their parents, who wish to mold them into what they perceive as the perfect children. Jacqueline is placed in the role of her mother’s perfect daughter—always wearing dresses, never getting her clothes soiled, and faultlessly polite. On the other side, Jillian becomes her father’s idea of the perfect daughter—an adventurous tom-boy who plays sports with the boys and is never afraid to get dirty.
In their youngest years, they play along in their assigned roles without question. But as they grow and experience life, the twins begin to wonder why—why their personalities are being dictated for them and why they can’t break away. Just as they are beginning to figure out what they truly want in life, the door to their other world appears. Soon, they are walking separate paths and coming into their own—learning that there are no set rules for how to be a girl. But in this eerie and twisted world, the sisters veer away from each other in more ways than they ever could have predicted.
The main aspect of this novel that I adored was getting the chance to see the background of these two characters—whom we’ve already come to care about—and actually delving deeply into the intriguing and frightening world of the Moors, in which they find themselves living for a time. Unlike the first novel, this one deals primarily with Jack and Jill’s time in their alternate world, rather than with the result of spending so long living there. It was wonderful to really explore the details of one of these fantasies that is only hinted at previously. McGuire has already proved her immense talent for the creative and unique, but she is able to take it to a whole new level with this particular story.
McGuire does another spectacular job creating vivid and multi-dimensional characters in this novel, despite the limitations of its length. Jack and Jill evolve a great deal throughout the course of the narrative. Having this extra time to experience these two characters helped flesh out their personalities even more than the previous novel did. Though none of us have had lives quite like theirs’, the struggle to find oneself in a society that is obsessed with labeling is a common theme that any reader can connect with.
Jack and Jill’s parents are horribly selfish, yet a hugely important element of the novel. Their parts in forcing the two girls into the lives and personalities that they would like them to have is an essential trigger for Jack and Jill finally realizing and becoming who they are truly meant to be. It is their strictness that sends them looking for answers and toward the door that has just opened for them. All of their efforts to mold the perfect daughters only drives the twins more toward independence and the ability to discover themselves.
The writing, as in the first novel, is once again pure magic. Seanan McGuire’s talent at crafting these beautiful and unique little vignettes is boundless. Her writing is fluid and simple, but her words contain a great amount of depth. This novel is slightly slower-paced than its predecessor, but that does not make it any less compulsively readable. For me, I loved the fact that I could take my time and really get wrapped up in the world. Even though I am always left dying for more, the narrative as a whole is a solid, complete, and fulfilling story.
The term that continuously returns to my mind when reading or thinking about these stories is “fractured fairytales”. They are enchanting and magical, as any fairytale is, yet also broken and sharp. They take you on a journey beyond the boundaries of the natural world, to the furthest reaches of your imagination, and then cut into you with their menacing undertones and unsettling twists. Instead of being sparkling and refreshing, they are murky and rough around the edges.
Everything about this novel is darkly beautiful, enchanting, heartbreaking, and bittersweet—there wasn’t a single moment that I didn’t love with all my heart. McGuire expertly unfolds another haunting, gritty, and whimsical modern day fairytale that is sure to captivate readers. It is such a short story, but it packs a huge punch in a small amount of time, and the length never inhibits the reader’s ability to become enveloped by this world. Though I don’t want it to be over just yet, I am still absolutely dying to get my hands on the final book in this trilogy.
The thing I wanted from Every Heart a Doorway (EHaD) was more information from the other places the children went. Down Among the Sticks and Bones follows the infamous Jack and Jill from the inkling of a thought about conception to the moment they were kicked out of the Moors.
Jacqueline and Jillian were not what I expected them to be. As sisters and twins to boot I thought that even in the Moors they would be thick as thieves especially after we see them at the Asylum/School in the previous book. But that isn’t want they were at all. They were practically strangers in a land where you would think they would have held tight to the only thing they still had from the world they left.
The Moors is fascinating because it is almost a land out of a Shelley novel. It reminds me of Frankenstein and Dracula movie that were in black and white.
*** There are worlds built on rainbows and worlds built on rain. There are worlds of pure mathematics, where every number chimes like crystal as it rolls into reality. There are worlds of light and worlds of darkness, worlds of rhyme and worlds of reason, and worlds where the only thing that matters is the goodness in a hero’s heart. The Moors are none of those things.
The Moors exist in eternal twilight, in the pause between the lightning strike and the resurrection. They are a place of endless scientific experimentation, of monstrous beauty, and of terrible consequences ***
This story was easier to follow than the last because we know Jack and Jill and because this focused solely on their journey to one land. It was surprising because I thought I knew Jack and Jill when clearly I didn’t
I liked the EHaD a little more just because of the chaos and all of the different possible worlds you could end up in if you just opened the right door at the right time. But I also liked seeing Jack in her element as she apprenticed to the good Dr. I appreciate that her romantic interests were different than many characters in stories. This was the character fleshing out I wanted to see in the book and now I fully understand the sacrifice that Jack made to stay with her sister and it made me like her all the more.
This series is strange and will not work for everyone. But I’m enjoying my time in nonsense worlds and logic worlds and all of the worlds in-between.
Most recent customer reviews
When twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen years old, they were sent...Read more