Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children)

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children)
Seanan McGuire, 2017

Premise: Prequel to Every Heart a Doorway. Jacqueline and Jillian had the kind of parents who shouldn't have children, so when they stumble into a place that offers them mentorship and protection, they take it...for better or worse.

It's been just long enough since I read Every Heart a Doorway that I didn't fully remember the roles that Jack and Jill played in that story. I'm not sure whether it's better to read this with the knowledge of their future fates or without it. I actually think the way I accidentally did it might be best, where I slowly remembered the original over the course of reading the prequel.

Either way, this is a novella about children whose parents try to force them into roles that don't fit, and how their relationships with themselves and others are screwed up because of it. Sure, their temperaments aren't helped by spending years of their childhoods in a dark and dangerous place home to gothic monsters, but that isn't what messes them up.

Like Every Heart, this is a novella, and it leans even further into the fairy-tale feel with stylized narration. It's both broad and subtle; exploring the rules of a horror-movie dimension alongside the tension between twins who never learned to be friends. Sad, poetic, and highly recommended.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book


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