Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire is a Wayward Children novel that tells the story of the Jack and Jill we meet in McGuire’s first book Every Heart a Doorway.
There was once twin girls, Jacqueline and Jillian, born into a house of sterotypes and strict rules. Jacqueline, never Jack, was raised to be the perfect daughter, raised to be a prim, proper little girl full of frills and finery. Jillian, never Jill, was raised to be her father’s tomboy, the rough and tumbled son he never had. And so identical twins, who should be closer than any siblings can be, drifted along their own paths.
When boredom brings them back together at twelve, the girls follow an impossible path down an impossible stairway and discover a world filled with magic, mayhem, a mad scientist and the possibility of life beyond death. Jack and Jill fall down a hill and what they find at the bottom will change them forever.
“Some adventures begin easily. It is not hard, after all, to be sucked up by a tornado or pushed through a particularly porrous mirror; there is no skill involved in being swept away by a great wave or pulled down a rabbit hole. Some adventures require nothing more than a willing heart and the ability to trip over the cracks in the world.
Other adventures must be committed to before they have even properly begun. How else will they know the worthy from the unworthy, if they do not require a certain amount of effort on the part of the ones who would undertake them? Some adventures are cruel, because it is the only way they know to be kind.”
McGuire is just fantastic! I love these dark little fairy tales. There is something so gritty and yet honest about them. We get familiar elements of the fairy tales we grew up with but we get to re-imagine them in totally different ways.
I just love this idea of doorways and that the worlds find the children who need them, but they aren’t always meant to stay.
Gender roles and stereotypes are enforced and then reversed. In fact I’d say this book abolishes them completely and attempts to focus on the individual over gender roles–to define our own roles because there is no one way to… be.
Although, we get to see characters we are familiar with, we see them in a whole new light. This book can easily be read as a standalone and acts as more of a mini prequel to the Jack and Jill we see in Every Heart a Doorway. This is a short read, longer then a novella but not quite a novel, that you can devour in less then a weekend.
I really enjoyed this one and am happy to add it to my collection. Keep writing McGuire! This one gets 5 stars from me.
That’s all for now!