Down Among the Sticks and Bones – Seanan McGuire

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Down Among the Sticks and Bones is the second book in the Wayward Children series, but chronologically it functions more like an origin story for the first book. As this book was assigned for class, I did not read the first book before diving into this one. That being said, I did not feel as though I was missing out on anything because the events of this book are giving us character development for people that were established in book one but can easily exist as its own story. Seanan McGuire has been on my radar for a while, as some of my blogger friends have raved about Every Heart a Doorway, so I knew that I had to choose this book for class.

Despite the fact that this is a relatively short book, I felt that the author managed to pack a lot of story, world, and lyricism into it. Her writing style was not overly flowery but managed to have an elegant and poetic flow to it nonetheless. The pacing was a little slow at the beginning, as we are introduced to Jillian and Jacqueline in our world. We see them grow up, molded into the children that their parents want them to be, and warped in ways that will affect their lives in unknowable ways. The author explores the twins’ world, weaves a coming of age tale, explores what one might do when deciding who you want to be once no one controls you, and how two lives can diverge so greatly.

She brilliantly illustrated this unique and horrifying world – the Moors. That portion of the story drew me in, like watching something where you know it is not going to end well and yet being unable to look away. It was in the Moors that I was truly invested in the story. I wish that we had been able to spend more time here, as there was so much time dedicated to their lives prior to the Moors – it meant that the story captured within the Moors felt a little rushed at times. Just giving us a little more there would have been brilliant.

Despite the fact that the story was originally published for adults, it features two characters who grow up over the course of the novel. Their fears and foibles are those of children and teens, which makes this an incredibly relatable book – despite the fantasy aspect of it. There are monsters in human clothing and those that don’t masquerade at all. It was tough to watch the twins make utterly dichotomous choices, allowing one to grow into herself and the other to seemingly regress. As a reader, you want to help them but know that they make their own mistakes. It was heartbreaking, which is really impressive due to the short nature of this book, and showed how the author managed to make you connect to the characters.

I really enjoyed reading this book and it makes me want to see what happens to the characters in the first book in the series. It’s definitely appealing to a variety of ages, although it’s darker tone might not sit well with younger teens depending upon their preferences. Overall, I would definitely recommend it.

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