Author: Seanan McGuire
Released: June 13th 2017
Received: Library Book
Down Among the Sticks and Bones is most surprisingly, a prequel to Every Heart A Doorway. It includes two characters that were well established in the first; Jack and Jill. This novel is the story of how they became Wayward Children, and how they ended up back on earth (for lack of a better description) again. I wasn’t expecting this for the second novel, after all we had been given a lot of hints about their past already. That being said I’m very happy that Seanan McGuire wrote this story. It’s always fun to see how characters ended up developing and reaching certain points.
So Down Among the Sticks and Bones, like I said above, happens before the events in Every Heart a Doorway. That means that there will be some spoilers for the first novel, if you’re reading them out of order. Not really a big deal, in the grand scheme of things, but still something to consider.
Those of us that have read the first novel in Seanan McGuire’s series already know the fate of Jack and Jill. We already know how much Jack has gone through, and we’re forced to learn just how messed up Jill’s perspective on life has become. But that doesn’t change the fact that we never really saw what made them that way. This story explains everything, from their lives before finding the door to their experience in the Moors.
It’s worth noting that while they’re twins their lives have been exceptionally different from one another. It’s one of the many reasons they have the difficulties they do. While the Moors part of the novel was interesting and intentionally horrific (and I mean that in the horror novel sense), their life before that time in many ways, for me, was worse.
Seanan McGuire did almost too good of a job showing the more subtle forms of abuse. It’s easy to spot the obvious forms of it, but the subtle ones? Those frequently go unnoticed, ignored, and frequently even downplayed. Here we have two parents who are literally incapable of acknowledging their children as human beings, and their behavior towards these little girls truly did make my skin crawl.
The Moors was fascinating to read about. How it had all these different partitions of the world, and each area represented a popular horror or fantasy creature. It’s a fun concept, and the idea of some of those children making it back home explains how the ordinary people like us would be fascinated by these creatures.
Interestingly I found myself being particularly fond of Dr. Bleak. Yes, he is the mad scientist many have read about, but he’s so different than one would expect. Nothing he does is motivated by cruelty, something that cannot be said by his counterpart. Instead he’s the unwilling hero, and he knows it. I found myself fascinated by his level of self-awareness. I could easily see why somebody like Jack would look up to him.
There were many parts of this story that really struck a chord to me. I feel like many others would agree. After I finished I found myself just sitting there mulling over everything I had read and wishing there was more.
I will say that on the whole I think I enjoyed Every Heart a Doorway more for its plot, but Down Among the Sticks and Stones had the better example of character development. Both have been exceptionally strong in world building, which as you know is always my favorite part in a series like this. It’ll be interesting to see what new strength Beneath the Sugar Sky will bring to the forefront.