Title: Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Portal Fantasy, Horror, LGBTQIA+
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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.
Now, if you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know this is easily one of my favorite series. I’ve been obsessed with it since reading it last year and I’ve actually already done a video on this book, so if you wanna watch that, here ya go (it was one of my early videos…so sorry for the shit audio):
Baby Alastor is in it, if you want some feels lol
Okay, so this book took a slightly different approach to Every Heart A Doorway. This book was more horror than murder mystery or whimsical fantasy, which actually worked pretty well. It’s not scary horror, but more like classic horror, like watching a monster movie.
This book is also a prequel and tells the story of Jack and Jill from the first book. There is some debate if reading this book after Every Heart a Doorway ruins it since in book one you already know the outcome, but I didn’t mind. There was always this lingering sense of dread since I something bad was going to happen that actually kept me intrigued. If you rather go into this one blind, then definitely check it out before book one.
“The Moors exist in eternal twilight, in the pause between the lightning strike and the resurrection. They are a place of endless scientific experimentation, of monstrous beauty, and of terrible consequences.”
As for the plot of this one, I liked it. It was fun to explore the Moors and learn more about the world Jack and Jill went to. I really liked the part where there were three different paths and the other two hinted at being two AU stories (that I would actually love to read). But the one we got was so interesting, especially knowing Every Heart a Doorway.
Now, one of the biggest praises for Every Heart a Doorway was the diversity. Down Among the Sticks and Bones does have some diversity as well. Jack is in a f/f romance, though we don’t know the sexual orientations of the characters. Also, Jack’s love interest is plus sized. Jack also displays OCD tendencies, specially germaphobia, though it is unclear if it’s just the fear of germs or an obsessive fear of germs.
Overall, I loved how this book expanded the mythos of the first book while being able to stand on its own. This was such a visual book; I feel like I was able to picture the Moors pretty well and it’s a perfect creepy read.
“The trouble with denying children the freedom to be themselves—with forcing them into an idea of what they should be, not allowing them to choose their own paths—is that all too often, the one drawing the design knows nothing of the desires of their model. Children are not formless clay, to be shaped according to the sculptor’s whim, nor”
One thing I thought was an interesting and compelling subplot was how HOWFUL Jack and Jill’s parents are. I think there’s something to be said about parents who have kids to solely be used as props. I’m in my 20s, so a lot of people in my life are having kids…and not all of them are equipped to have children. While I totally get parents wanting to shape their kids to be “perfect,” it is important to know what the kids actually want. This book addresses that SO well. The first few chapters are all about Jack and Jill growing up and an interesting commentary on the “perfect” nuclear home of modern America.