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Reading the Rainbow: Down Among the Sticks and Bones

June 30, 2017

Guys, gals, and non-binary pals, I’m so excited to tell you about this book, you don’t even know. Seanan McGuire’s Down Among the Sticks and Bones has been one of my favorite reads so far this year, and I’m happy to say that even if you haven’t read the “first” Wayward Children book, Every Heart a Doorway (omg, on sale for 40% off today…someone get it for me? I only have a library copy), this prequel stands alone. Do I even need to say it’s getting a yes vote for Rainbow? I’m saying it anyway: it’s a big yes from me.

For those who don’t know, Every Heart a Doorway introduces us to a set of very unusual children who live at a home run by a mysterious woman. Does it sound too familiar to you? A little too Miss Peregrine? Don’t worry; it’s not the same kind of story at all. In the Wayward Children universe, Eleanor West takes in young people who have all fallen into magical worlds and are having problems adjusting back in the real world. They all want to get back, but have been rejected for one reason or another–often aging out of these lands where only children can have adventures. It’s a story of PTSD, but also murder, as one of the “wayward children” winds up dead, and it’s up to the others to figure out who did it before they’re next. The book, which won an Alex Award for young adult crossover appeal, was also honored by last year’s Rainbow committee for its GLBTQIA characters–including the main character Nancy, who’s asexual.

In Down Among the Sticks and Bones, we’re taken back a bit in time to follow the wayward twins Jack and Jill as they grow up being boxed by their parents into roles that don’t fit them at all. After discovering an impossible staircase, they find themselves in a strange, bleak world where they can be themselves, but at a terrible cost. At 192 pages, it’s a short but engrossing read that fills in the blanks for characters I never really felt I could get a read on in Doorway–mostly because it’s from Nancy’s perspective–and it’s the kind of prequel that makes you want to read the other book all over again. Exactly what a prequel should do, in my opinion.

The third book, Beneath the Sugar Sky, comes out in January, probably in hopes it can net McGuire and Tor another Alex, and the wait already feels like forever.

As always, links may be referrals.

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