Winner: 2018 Alex Award
Winner: 2018 ALA RUSA Fantasy Award
Seanan McGuire returns to her popular Wayward Children series with Down Among the Sticks and Bones—a truly standalone story suitable for adult and young adult readers of urban fantasy, and the follow-up to the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List book Every Heart a Doorway
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.
The Wayward Children Series
Book 1: Every Heart a Doorway
Book 2: Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Book 3: Beneath the Sugar Sky
Book 4: In an Absent Dream
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
"Everything comes down to blood" in McGuire's bittersweet, heartbreaking novella. Identical twin sisters Jacqueline and Jillian Wolcott (introduced in Every Heart a Doorway) were raised to behave and obey. Only their grandmother, Gemma Lou, told them "they were clever, they were strong, they were miracles," but their time with her was short. When they're 12, the twins discover a winding staircase in a trunk; it leads to a door, to a land under a blood-red moon, and to a choice between the Master, a vampire, and Dr. Bleak, a scientist with the power to bring the dead to life. Jill stays with the Master, while Jack is apprenticed to Dr. Bleak. As years pass, Jill, under thrall to her master, longs for the day he'll grant her immortality, becoming bitter and cruel. Jack enjoys learning the ways of Dr. Bleak's power and falling in love with the beautiful, reanimated Alexis. When Jill commits a shocking act to prove her worth, Jack must choose between her sister and revenge. McGuire's exquisitely written fairy tale is about the choices that can alter the course of a life forever, lost innocence, and what it is to love and be loved.
The Story of Jack & Jill in the Moors
“Down Among the Sticks and Bones” is technically the second volume in Seanan McGuire’s “Wayward Children Series.” However, chronologically, is set before the events of the first volume, “Every Heart a Doorway.” Fortunately, it can be understood as a stand-alone story.
This is the story of the twins, Jaqueline and Jillian, also known as Jack and Jill. They are raised by a couple who want to have a child for all the wrong reasons, then fail in many ways as parents.
“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 twelve when they found an impossible staircase at the bottom of a trunk, and went through a doorway that lead to the Moors. A place where a giant red moon shone down upon its inhabitants. Where the Master rules his Castle, and the Werewolves rule the hills. The twins have to make their own choices in this place. These send them on different paths for many years. When their destines come back together again, it results in momentous consequences for them both.
The Wayward Children Series is certainly the most contemporary portal fantasy I’ve encountered. It takes the tropes of this venerable sub-genera, and turns them completely around. The characters are sometimes whimsical, but most have a touch of their own inner darkness. The Moors is an interesting place to visit, but it would clearly be a dangerous place to live.
I’m now interested in seeing some of the other worlds that other wayward children have gotten off to. Fortunately, there are several more novellas in the series to explore.
One of the best series currently out
Jack & Jill + Chronicles of Narnia + Seanan McGuire
Sorry, there were other combos, but I don’t want to spoil anything for y’all!
Jacqueline and Jillian never got a choice in who they would be. Their parents saw to it that one was a pretty princess and the other would be a tomboy to make up for the shame of not having a boy AND a girl. When they find a staircase in their grandmother’s trunk, they have an opportunity to choose for the first time in their lives. To choose their master and to choose each other.
Again, adored this and will be buying the third to read next month. While Jack & Jill were primary characters in Every Heart a Doorway, we get the whole heart-breaking story here. I have seen in other reviews that this book should be first and EHaD second, but I humbly disagree. If that were the case, there would me no shocking twist in EHaD. Just a gorgeous story. I was at first disconcerted that we weren’t in the school, but Seanan made me forget that very quickly. Besides the breathtaking character and world building, she has a language that can’t be replicated.
Buy this for yourself and everyone you know, twisted or not!
High Wicked Logic
I enjoyed it more than the first. I recommend reading it before the first. The ending of this book will leave you wanting to read or reread Every Heart a Doorway. Down Among the Sticks and Stones has great rhyming prose and tells a great tale. Crafts a very wicked world but everyhing has a logic, from character motivations, all the way to insightful revelations. Give it to kids and teens trying to figure out their own identities, girls or boys. Give it to couples who have children of their own, wife or husband. That’s all I can say without taking away the surprise that’s at it’s heart. Subtle, yet deep.