Down Among the Sticks and Bones
by Seanan McGuire
Release date: June 13, 2017
I received a complimentary ARC copy of Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire from NetGalley in order to read and give an honest review.
Seanan McGuire is definitely one of my favourite fantasy authors. Her books have it all, perfect prose, masterful plots, exciting worlds and engaging characters and the same is true with her Wayward Children series.
Among the Stick and Bones is the second story and a prequel to Every Heart A Doorway. Among the Sticks and Bones shares the events that led sisters Jack and Jill to Miss West’s Home for Wayward Children.
We first meet parents Chester and Selena Wolcott, more concerned with social status and proper appearances than raising twins Jacqueline (Jack) and Jillian (Jill). To them, the twins are nothing more than accessories which they form and mold into their “perfect children”. Seanan McGuire is never shy in addressing tough themes such as emotional abuse and gender equality, I for one applaud her for that and in this book she tackles them head on. As Jack and Jill get older they begin to get resentful and frustrated with the other. Jack molded to assume the “girly girl” role and Jill the “tom boy” begin to become overwhelmingly jealous of the other.
When a rainy day forces the twins to spend time together, out of boredom they decide to play in an attic where a mysterious staircase appears. When the girls descend the staircase, they enter into another world filled with conflict, creatures and danger. Upon arriving in the new world, they soon learn that things are not as they seem. The story follows both girls in the “new world” for a period of five years. Jill living as a princess in the castle with “the Master” while Jack takes on the difficult and often gruesome work as the Doctor’s apprentice. We begin to see the girls evolve away from their “formed” personalities and through a bizarre occurrence of events, they transform into their new roles.
I read both books out of order but enjoyed them both. I’m not sure whether reading them out of order would matter but I personally found that by reading the prequel first, I viewed Jack and Jill with a bit more empathy in Every Heart. I also think there was more of a surprise and sense of urgency, I needed to read Every Heart a Doorway to find out what happened to the girls.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone wanting to go on an adventure.