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Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)

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Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire // VBC ReviewDown Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2)
Seanan McGuire
Published: June 20, 2017 (Tor)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars

Note: While this review will be spoiler free it may reference previous events. If you haven’t started this series yet, check out VBC’s review of book 1, Every Heart a Doorway.

From birth, twins Jacqueline and Jillian’s indifferent parents set them into particular boxes. Jacqueline (never Jack) was a proper, pretty, princess of a girl. Jillian (not Jill) was the short-haired, sports-playing tomboy. Their parents never asked them what they wanted; they just knew their girls needed to be different.

One day while exploring an empty room in their too-large house, Jacqueline and Jillian stumble upon a doorway in an old steamer trunk. Wanting to have an adventure, the girls go through the doorway. Upon emerging, they find themselves in The Moors, a strange world where castles sit on the hilltop and a blood-red moon hovers over the night sky. Their decision to go through the doorway is their first step in becoming Jack and Jill and starts them on a path that will pit sister against sister.

If you previously read Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway—which by the way you definitely should—you’ll recognize our protagonists Jack and Jill who were seventeen when they made their ways to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Sticks and Bones is a prequel story about Jack and Jill and basically the life they’ve lived thus far that has shaped both of them for better or worse.

Even knowing how events eventually play out, Seanan McGuire knows how to write a story and pack a punch in a relatively short amount of pages. I liked the somewhat subtle commentary McGuire makes in the way the girls are shoved into certain roles/obligations. Even when they rebel against those labels there’s still a smidgeon of those initial roles left. They can’t completely leave behind what their parents tried to impose upon them at such a young age. It goes a long way in showing how things really can shape and form you when you’re young.

Of course all of this hinges upon the relationship between Jack and Jill. Being twins, you feel their bond should be strong. They are each a part of a whole. So when there’s so much separation, animosity and competition between them, it’s rather heartbreaking. As the story winds down to the inevitable conclusion (the girls going back through the door) you wonder if they’ll be able to mend what was broken between them. If blood really is thicker than water.

I loved that I got such an enriched story in a novella setting with Down Among the Sticks and Bones. I immediately want to re-read Every Heart a Doorway, looking at Jack and Jill in a new light. I can’t wait to see what’s next in this series.

Sexual content: references to sex

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