Book Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

by - 4:07:00 AM

Title: Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Author: Seanan McGuire
Pages: 189
Genre: YA Fantasy/Horror
Release Date: 13 June 2017
From Goodreads: "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."
This book was everything to me and I will cherish it forever.
"She had tried to make sure they knew that there were a hundred, a thousand, a million different ways to be a girl, and that all of them were valid, and that neither of them was doing anything wrong. She had tried."
Remember Jack and Jill from Every Heart a Doorway? This is the story of what happened first. Down Among the Sticks and Bones follows Jack and Jill as they grow up in a household that doesn't really seem to care about them but rather the idea of them and how their parents want them to be. You get to see how they were before the Moors. How Jack always went by Jacqueline and wore things that made her look like a princess. How Jillian was the more adventurous one, the tom-boy thrill seeker. It was so different from the characters that you know from Every Heart a Doorway but I absolutely loved getting to read their origin story, so to speak. This was a book that I was highly anticipating because I absolutely fell in love with Jack in the first book and was so eager to learn more about her and the twins time in the Moors. It was just as creepy and wonderful as I was hoping it would be and I could easily read a million more pages about these characters and the world they traveled to.

I loved basically seeing Jack and Jill grow up and become the characters that we're already familiar with. Obviously you already know who is going to end up where (Jack with the doctor and Jill with the Master) but that's only part of the story. You get to see how the two adapt to their situations and how Jill actually begins to resent Jack because she feels like she left her. It's part horror, part growing up, but it's all incredible. Everything from start to finish is more magical, creepy, and enchanting all at the same time and the ending is sure to break your heart into a thousand pieces. But it's one of the most beautiful horror stories I've ever had the pleasure of reading. The writing will absolutely draw you in and make you feel like you're walking the foggy, dangerous roads of the Moors with Jack and walking around the castle in princess dresses with Jill. It's a story that once you start, you won't want to stop.
"If they didn't find a way out, they were going to become paper dolls, flat and faceless and ready to be dressed however their parents wanted them to be."
Jack is still easily my favorite. She's just such a wonderful character to read about and I can totally relate to the more tom-boy way that she acts and dresses. It was such a trip when I was reading the beginning and seeing just how different they were as they were growing up. Jack was the more girly one who always wore pretty dresses and hated to get dirty and that was not something I was expecting because, well, she works with Dr. Bleak and gets dirty a lot. I did love her little quirk of wearing gloves everywhere because she retains the fear of getting dirty and I thought that was a cute little unique thing she did. I also adored her relationship with both Dr. Bleak and Alexis. She was definitely the better of the two characters and I just could not get enough of her! The ending is truly heartbreaking for her character, though, but I still hold to my statement that this book is one you won't want to put down once you pick it up.

Jill, while she is Jack's twin, was not my favorite. Once she got to the Moors and was with the Master, I watched her transform into a spoiled princess. She was always so angry at Jack and would watch her from the castle with, at least I would assume, hatred in her heart. The Master would give her anything she wanted and basically required her to be his little princess until she turned 18, at which time he would make her like him. Jill was evil (and did I mention spoiled?) but it was great to read about how she became the way that she was in Every Heart a Doorway and to really get to understand her more than I did in the first book. I certainly wouldn't object to another story about what happens to them after Every Heart a Doorway!
"Some adventures begin easily. It is not hard, after all, to be sucked up by a tornado or pushed through a particularly porous 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."
Seanan McGuire has an absolutely magical way with words. I've woven some of my favorite quotes throughout this review, but there are so many more I'd like to include below:
"We may not know how we know that, but we know it all the same; that the moon watches, and the moon worries, and the moon will always love us, no matter what."
"Both girls, through different routes, down different roads, had come home."
"Look at them finding themselves in this wind-racked place, where even the moon is not always safe to look upon."
"She is only a year older than Jack, found dead when the sun rose, with a streak of white in her hair that spoke to a heart stopped when some phantom lover kissed her too deeply."
"The vampire's daughter, the mad scientist's apprentice, they will never again be the innocent, untouched children who wandered down a stairway, who went through a door."
"Beauty was all the brighter against a background of briars."
"We will leave them there. There are some things that do not need to be seen to be understood; things that can be encompassed by a single sharp scream, and by a spray of blood painting the heather, red as roses, red as apples, red as the lips of the vampire's only child. There is nothing here for us now."
Like I said, magical. Not only does this paint some amazing imagery in the mind of the reader, but it is just some of the most lyrical writing I've ever laid eyes on. The author truly has a gift of bringing her worlds to life and allowing the reader to get lost inside the pages of her books. The words she's written are breathtaking, frightening, and majestic all at the same time. You don't realize that you've read through the entire book until you hit the last page and you realize it's over, and even then you're not ready to let go. This series is definitely going to be one that will remain in my heart forever and I will follow it for as long as it goes.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones is a fantastic companion novel to Every Heart a Doorway that brings back the familiar, creepy twins Jack and Jill. Ironically, I have typed Jack and Kill throughout this entire review and I keep laughing at my accidental cleverness. This book will not only make you love these girls even more (or maybe just Jack) but will also leave you begging for more installments in the Wayward Children series. It's dark and spooky and a perfect pick up for the Fall season and will leave its mark on you long after you've finished the final page.

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