Thursday, January 16, 2020

Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Book: Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #2
Publication: June 13, 2017

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.

Jack was my favourite character in the first book, so I was absolutely thrilled that there was a prequel story about her experience in the Moors, before she returned to the mundane realm and was shipped off to Eleanor West's school.

The first and foremost thing: Jack and Jill's parents are the absolute worst. The author had a really interesting commentary about the concept of children, childhood, and the expectations parents place on their children. It was sassy in a very matter-of-fact way, which made it entertaining to read. You can see it straight away from the synopsis, and boy does it get better. I will admit, it was a little difficult for me to wrap my head around Jill being the tomboyish one and Jack the princess one in the beginning; I knew them solely as the opposite from the first book, with Jill in her crazy dresses and Jack always impeccably dressed.

What I really liked about this book was the underlying psychology dropped here and there for each of the twins; the author laid out the foundation of each twin's mindsets, and thereby explaining why each made their own choices. Of course Jill wanted to go with the Master (Dracula); she had spent her entire life always second to Jack in terms of getting all the positive female attention. And of course Jack chose to go with Dr. Bleak (Frankenstein); she had spend her entire life as nothing but pretty decoration, and wanted to something more with her life. Everything just made so much sense.

I do think it would have been fun to experience Jill's descent into her, well, madness. Her obsession with the Master was just downright creepy, and her behaviour was off the charts insane at times. But I suppose we already knew that from the first book...but a bit more justification and exploration into her time learning how to become a vampire would have been interesting. Did she never question anything she was doing? Does she have absolutely no sense of morals?

I also think it would have been quite entertaining to see how Jack and Jill's parents handled the return of their daughters. How they reached the conclusion to ship them off to Eleanor's. Because, at seventeen, their parents in no way could have been able to keep up with them, let alone control them. I think it would have been quite satisfying to have the parents realize their mistakes, or to at least realize they could no longer control their daughters. And also, what exactly happened to Jack and Jill's relationship to their new brother? But the biggest question I have is this: how on earth could Jack have forgiven Jill once they arrived back in this world after what's she's done? Sisters or not, they just seemed far too different to act even remotely like sisters again, which makes me wonder about how they got along at Eleanor's or why they stood out for one another there.

Overall, it was a very fun book that shed some light on Jack and Jill's previous lives, and who they are meant to be. More Jack please!!!

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