86 points, 4 ½ stars!
Twins Jack and Jill went tumbling not down a hill, but to the Moors. Jacqueline was the pretty princess, the one everyone adored. Jillian was the perfect tomboy, the son that wasn’t a son, that their father coveted. Despising who their parents wanted them to be, Jack and Jill went looking for something to do, but found a land filled with mad scientists and death and things that go bump in the night instead.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones is not a sequel to Every Heart a Doorway. It is a prequel. You’ve already met Jack and Jill, you know how their story ends. Now see how it begins. I’m never quite keen on prequels, and that is true of this, too. No matter how much I love Seanan McGuire and how she writes, I just wasn’t looking forward to this when it came out.
I just don’t like this one as much as Every Heart a Doorway. It isn’t Seanan McGuire’s fault. It isn’t even my fault. This is still very, very well written, and an amazing read. It just doesn’t tug at my heartstrings as much. Jack and Jill’s home is not my home. It feels alien and wrong. It scrapes at my being. Nancy was closer to me.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones is Jack and Jill’s story. The narration is split in two, for they are not the same person, however much they look the same. We see the girls as they age in a home that doesn’t love them, in a home that wants them to be something other than who they are. We see them as they go away and find their new homes. This isn’t a story of the girls coming to terms with the fact they have been transported someplace new and alien. We have already seen that story, even in the abbreviated form it was in.
This is us finding our home. This is Jack and Jill finding their home, in whatever shapes it could take for them.
This is the Moors, where the dead don’t stay dead. The Moors, where the villagers aren’t safe from outside forces, but they aren’t always safe from their benefactor, either. Where a little girl can shuck the clothes she hates and become what she loves. Where a girl can stop doing the things she hates, and become adored.
This is home.