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Down among the sticks and bones
2017
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A stand-alone fantasy in the world of Every Heart a Doorway shares the story of Jack and Jill before they tumbled into Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, relating their experiences in a childhood world of monsters, mad scientists and fateful choices. - (Baker & Taylor)

"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 ... 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."-- - (Baker & Taylor)

Shares the story of twin sisters Jack and Jill before they tumbled into Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, relating their experiences in a childhood world of monsters, mad scientists, and fateful choices. - (Baker & Taylor)

A stand-alone dark fantasy tale from the world of Every Heart a Doorway: what happened to Jack and Jill before they tumbled into Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children? - (McMillan Palgrave)

Winner: 2018 Alex Award
Winner: 2018 ALA RUSA Fantasy Award

Seanan McGuire returns to her popular Wayward Children series with Down Among the Sticks and Bones—a truly standalone story suitable for adult and young adult readers of urban fantasy, and the follow-up to the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List book Every Heart a Doorway


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.

The Wayward Children Series
Book 1: Every Heart a Doorway
Book 2: Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Book 3: Beneath the Sugar Sky
Book 4: In an Absent Dream

- (McMillan Palgrave)

Author Biography

SEANAN McGUIRE is the author of the October Daye urban fantasy series, the InCryptid series, the Wayward Children series, and other works. She also writes darker fiction as Mira Grant.

Seanan lives in Seattle with her cats, a vast collection of creepy dolls, and horror movies, and sufficient books to qualify her as a fire hazard.

She was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and in 2013 she became the first person ever to appear five times on the same Hugo ballot.

- (McMillan Palgrave)

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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Many fairy tales begin this way: neglectful parents, a kindly grandmother, and a loss. We learn Jack and Jill's backstory after the events in Every Heart a Doorway (2016): perfectly feminine Jacqueline is bedecked in frills and lace, while Jillian runs free with the boys in the mud. One day, they find a staircase that leads to the Moors, and this seals their fates. Jacqueline becomes Jack, apprentice to resurrectionist Dr. Bleak, adopting masculine clothing and falling in love with a village girl, while Jill stays with the Master, a powerful vampire who showers her with chiffon dresses and luxurious bubble baths in exchange for her blood. One girl wishes to become undead; the other spends her time bringing people back to life. Ultimately, the twins learn that the Moors are just as unforgiving of transgressions as the world they came from, and the stakes are even higher. McGuire pairs form with function in this spare story of two sisters who yearn for love, recognition, and belonging in ways that readers will readily identify with—chafing against rules both external and internal as they long to break free of the expectations of others. She taps into the horror and romance of classic fairy tales while weaving an extraordinarily modern and wise allegory of girlhood. Exquisitely well crafted, this is the rare companion novel that can stand alone. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

This second novella in the Wayward Children series (Every Heart a Doorway, 2016) explores the origins of casually ghoulish Jack and her beautifully dressed serial-killer sister, Jill. The emotionally chilly Wolcotts regard their twin daughters as ornaments to their lifestyle, clay to be forced into molds designed to make their parents look good. Although the girls are identical, the adults decide that Jacqueline is "the pretty one," who will wear lovely dresses and shun dirt at all costs, while Jillian is "the sporty one," who will forge boldly ahead and win medals. Neither girl is really comfortable in her assigned role, and that discomfort creates a rift between them. That rift widens dangerously when the girls discover a set of stairs leading to the dimly lit land of the Moors, inhabited by dark gods, monsters, mad scientists, and ordinary villagers who somehow manage to (mostly) survive the treacherous environment. When offered a choice, the two sisters welcome the chance to switch roles. Jacqueline becomes Jack, the apprentice to mad scientist Dr. Bleak, while Jill is adopted by the local vampire lord, his pampered food source until she turns 18, at w hich point he will make her a vampire. Jack discovers a love for the resurrection sciences as well as for the local innkeeper's daughter. Jill loves being outrageously spoiled and pressuring the mortal locals to bow to her whims out of fear of her "father." But Jill's impatience to become immortal, a desire to prove herself to her "father," and continued resentment of her sister lead to tragedy for them both. McGuire deftly depicts how love can bloom in the most unlikely places while the lack or distortion of love can be devastating. The trappings of gothic fantasy act as an eloquent backdrop to this vivid portrayal of a painfully dysfunctional family. Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews

This is the story of twin sisters Jacqueline and Jillian. Jacqueline is quiet and well mannered, princess-perfect—at least when she meets her mother's approval. Jillian is strong in character, always looking for adventure, and her father loves her so. He would have preferred a son, of course, but you do what you can with what you have. The girls quickly learn that their parents are manipulative and their love is just a façade. When they turn 12, Jacqueline and Jillian discover a winding staircase in a trunk that leads them to where they need to go—to discover magic, family, death, and themselves. VERDICT This stand-alone "prequel" to Every Heart a Doorway focuses on two intriguing characters from that book. Beautifully crafted and smartly written, this fairy-tale novella is everything that speculative fiction readers look for: fantastical worlds, diverse characters, and prose that hits home with its emotional truths.—KC

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Library Journal Reviews

Twin sisters Jacqueline and Jillian fulfill their parents' expectations of the perfect family. Jacqueline is her mother's feminine ideal, and Jillian is the adventurous, athletic tomboy who is almost the son her father didn't get. When the siblings find an impossible staircase hidden in the bottom of their grandmother's trunk, they follow it to the Moors, a place filled with science, magic, life, death, and, most frightening, the chance to choose to be who you really are. VERDICT McGuire revisits the world of Every Heart a Doorway to tell the story of two of its main characters. Insightful, harrowing, and wickedly funny, it will enthrall readers. (LJ 4/15/17)

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

"Everything comes down to blood" in McGuire's bittersweet, heartbreaking novella. Identical twin sisters Jacqueline and Jillian Wolcott (introduced in Every Heart a Doorway) were raised to behave and obey. Only their grandmother, Gemma Lou, told them "they were clever, they were strong, they were miracles," but their time with her was short. When they're 12, the twins discover a winding staircase in a trunk; it leads to a door, to a land under a blood-red moon, and to a choice between the Master, a vampire, and Dr. Bleak, a scientist with the power to bring the dead to life. Jill stays with the Master, while Jack is apprenticed to Dr. Bleak. As years pass, Jill, under thrall to her master, longs for the day he'll grant her immortality, becoming bitter and cruel. Jack enjoys learning the ways of Dr. Bleak's power and falling in love with the beautiful, reanimated Alexis. When Jill commits a shocking act to prove her worth, Jack must choose between her sister and revenge. McGuire's exquisitely written fairy tale is about the choices that can alter the course of a life forever, lost innocence, and what it is to love and be loved. Agent: Diana Fox, Fox Literary. (June)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Jacqueline and Jillian's parents were more taken with the idea of having children than the reality of raising them. The Wolcotts are now too busy making sure that the identical twins are the perfect accessories to their perfect lives to see how unhappy the sisters are about the roles they are shoved into. So when they discover a trunk containing a set of stairs instead of old clothes, the siblings take flight. They find themselves in a bleak, desolate, brutal land where good girl Jacqueline can be Jack, the mad scientist's apprentice, and tomboy Jillian is Jill, the pampered, proper companion to a vampire. This stand-alone prequel to the Alex Award winner Every Heart a Doorway features the same haunting and lyrical prose. Tightly crafted chapters compare the mundane horrors of the girls' childhood with the horrors of the Moors and invite readers to meditate on what really makes a monster. Coupled with McGuire's examination of the strained relationship between the sisters in both worlds, this is a work that will deeply resonate with teen readers. VERDICT Beautiful and devastating, this gem of a novel lingers and will garner many more fans for McGuire.—Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington Public Library, VA

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.

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