Monday, May 29, 2017

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

From the publisher: Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. This is the story of what happened first… . Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones is a presequel of sorts to Every Heart a Doorway. Jack and Jill are two of the main characters in Every Heart a Doorway; this book is their story, of the fantasy land they stumbled into at the age of 12 and returned to at the end of Every Heart a Doorway.

I really really loved Every Heart a Doorway  (see my review at I would heartily recommend it to anyone who feels they don’t quite fit in. I enjoyed Down Among the Sticks and Bones because I really love the way Seanan McGuire writes, but it’s not quite as good as the first book in the series. The fantasy land is well drawn, but what’s missing is the immersion in a place where everyone feels different and is seeking the place they belong.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones is a short book and a quick read. We get to know Jack and Jill better, and it has the same sort of creepy allure that the first book did. It has the same language affirming the right to choose how you are who you are.

For a short time the twins are cared for by their grandmother, and when she is sent packing by their parents when they fear she is influencing them too much, the grandmother thinks:

She had done her best. She had tried to encourage both girls to be themselves, and not to adhere to the rigid roles their parents were sketching a little more elaborately with every year. She had tried to make sure they knew that there were a hundred, a thousand, a million ways to be a girl, and that all of them were valid, and that neither of them was doing anything wrong. She had tried. (p. 34 of the advance reader copy)

I definitely recommend this book if you read and enjoyed the first.

I read an advance reader copy of Down Among the Sticks and Bones. It will be published in mid-June and will be available at the Galesburg Public Library as a print book and an ebook.

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