Monday, January 22, 2018

Book Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Title: Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Series: Wayward Children #2
Written by: Seanan McGuire
Published: June 13, 2017 by Tor Books (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you've got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

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.

I really loved Every Heart a Doorway. It had been on my list to read for awhile and I wish I had read it sooner. But the benefit of reading it now is that I can marathon the series. And that's exactly what I did. I started this book almost immediately after finishing book one. And this one was just as good.

One of the things I found missing from Every Heart a Doorway is more information about Jack and Jill. They were two of the most intriguing characters in the first book in the series and I wanted to know so much more about them their motivations, for obvious reasons. So I was incredibly excited to find out this was a book about them and their backstory. We learn a lot more about them including their upbringing, what led them to their fantasy world, and what it was like there for them. Most of the book is from Jack's perspective, which was fine, but I do kind of wish we got a little bit more from Jill. She's totally fascinating in that love to hate kind of way. But Jill is pretty cool as well. She definitely became very sympathetic in this book.

I think part of what made these characters so likable and interesting is the deeper themes that are explored when it comes to the characters and their relationships. This is definitely a series that explores the idea of belonging. That continued in this book and you really feel that overarching theme when you see if from more perspective.  But it also does a really great job with the concept of identity. So much of the characterizations here were about the characters figuring out who they are and who they want to be. I always find that to be an incredible relatable concept, no matter who you are or what your background. I really liked the way Jack and Jill were kind of forced into being one thing and then that shifted in a way that actually felt genuine. It wasn't a complete 180, it was a natural  progression, which made it all the more engaging.

But honestly, I wanted a little bit more from the plot of this book. It's definitely a character driven story, it's about Jack and Jill and how they became the young women we met in Every Heart a Doorway. Which is a great concept and one I was totally on board for. It should have been a little villain origin story, a little Hero's Journey, a little coming-of-age story. But it never really sold either of these concepts. I know it is a short book but I think it could have taken a little more time developing this stuff more. I think this is really the only thing that kept me from fully loving this book.

But one thing that I did love was the world. In Every Heart a Doorway I said I really wish we were able to explore the fantasy worlds, and here I got my wish. But even better than that, we were able to explore The Moors, one of the worlds I was most interested in. The Moors is a Gothic fiction fan's dream come true. It's dark and ominous with the perfect combination of horror and mystery. There were dubious characters and the perfect amount of gore. It's not really a place would want to visit myself but I found it totally fascinating and the perfect setting for this kind of book. it was atmospheric and pulled you in adding a level of suspense and interest. I honestly want more from this world. I want a whole novel from this world. I want a book about the Doctor and the Master. What's their story?

But that's probably pretty indicative of how I feel about this series in general. It's really good but I want so much more. There is another book and I can't wait to dive into it but I wish these were full length novels and not just novellas. They are so good they deserve the full book treatment.

I give Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you are like me and you enjoyed the first book in this series but wanted to learn more about the characters and the fantasy worlds then definitely check this book out.

Have you read Down Among the Sticks and Bones? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Wayward Children, Goth and fantasy? Sounds like this is going to be interesting! I haven't started the series yet, there's so many to read now it's impossible to follow

  2. I still need to read the first book (as usual) but already have high hopes for it as well as this sequel. Glad you liked it!

  3. Great review! I will have to read book 1 soon!