Seanan McGuire was able to pack so much representation into 173 pages! How many 1,000+ page fantasy novels have I read with zero representation? This story has an asexual main character and a transsexual main character. The story does a pretty great job at abolishing gender roles, too. This book really is nothing short of a masterpiece.
“This world is unforgiving and cruel to those it judges as even the slightest bit outside the norm.”
Some of the passages in this book blew me away. This story’s prose is so lyrical and beautiful. The Atmosphere is haunting, yet captivating. The characters are so important and memorable. I know I’m gushing, but this book was so enthralling, and easily only of the best books I’ve read in 2016.
“Because ‘boys will be boys’ is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Lundy. “They’re too loud, on the whole, to be easily misplaced or overlooked; when they disappear from the home, parents send search parties to dredge them out of swamps and drag them away from frog ponds. It’s not innate. It’s learned. But it protects them from the doors, keeps them safe at home. Call it irony, if you like, but we spend so much time waiting for our boys to stray that they never have the opportunity. We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.”
Basically, this story is a murder mystery that takes place inside a boarding school. The boarding school houses children that have been to faraway, magical lands and no longer fit into society, because they want nothing more than to go back through their magical doorways, to the places they consider home.
As I mentioned before, this book is filled with diverse characters, but this book always touches on a very important topic: Trauma. These kids no longer feel like kids, because of the way time passes in these magic lands, are suffering from PTSD. On top of that, their loved ones don’t even believe them when they tell them where they went, and are sending them off to this boarding school to “fix” them.
Thankfully, these kids have Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children. Eleanor is one of the very few, special people, that are able to find and open their magical world’s door at any given time. Yet, she lives in our world, taking care of kids that have to deal with maybe never going back to their magical world.
“Because hope is a knife that can cut through the foundations of the world… Hope hurts. That’s what you need to learn, and fast, if you don’t want it to cut you open from the inside out.”
And each student has a very different magical world. Our main character, Nancy, lived in the Underworld that even name drops Persephone. The Lord of the Dead promises Nancy that she will return, once she is ready, but after a few months back in our world, and with parents that refuse to accept her for who she is, Nancy is starting to have her doubts.
“Their love wanted to fix her, and refused to see that she wasn’t broken.”
Other characters’ worlds are a vast array from a real life Candyland, to a Frankenstein-like town filled with murderous vampires, to judgmental faeries and goblins fighting a war, to skeletons who could care less about losing their mortal bodies.
I am so happy that Seanan McGuire is giving us more of these worlds. Down Among the Sticks and Bones comes out in June of 2017, and I’ve already preordered it. I loved this book so much, and it is so very important. I have nothing but high hopes for its successor.
“You’re nobody’s rainbow.
You’re nobody’s princess.
You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.”
P.S. – I hope you all had an amazing Halloween and know how thankful I am to have you supporting my blog and my love for reading! I’m eternally grateful, always.