Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Book - 2017
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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

Publisher: New York :, Tor,, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780765392039
Branch Call Number: FIC McGui
Characteristics: 187 pages


From the critics

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Feb 24, 2020

Another great book! I want to read the series in order but I also want to skip ahead to the next Jill and Jack book. What to do...

Jan 06, 2020

This grabbed my eye and I was intrigued by the title and cover and the subject of twins/sisters. Found it very modern and highly insightful in to the female/sister psyche. Didn't care for the ending as a stand alone novel, but maybe should look for a sequel...

haushallmartinez Aug 13, 2019

Jack and Jill, introduced in Every Heart a Doorway, get their tale told in full here; their controlling parents, their grandmother who tried to save them, and the dark world out of horror films that accepted them. Jaqueline, raised to be the perfect daughter, flees from the vampire master and into the care of a mad scientist. Gillian, raised to be a tomboy, jumps at the chance to be a pampered princess in that same master's castle. The tale of their fate and breaking is wonderfully told (and read, in the audio version).

JCLBeckyC May 28, 2019

This dark fairy tale describes the circumstances that lead twins Jack and Jill away from their control-freak, high society parents into a Gothic world of mad scientists and vampires. Those who wanted more backstory in Every Heart a Doorway will devour this prequel.

Feb 16, 2019

Another of my favorite series because it is fantasy like and takes you to a different realm no matter where you are in life.

JCLChrisK Nov 10, 2018

A brilliant little gem of a fairy tale, narrated with a deliciously sarcastic voice. The story is spare, haunting, and lyrical, about two unwanted and unloved siblings who stumble into a twilit world of danger and darkness. The twin, twelve-year-old girls see the opportunity to to be self-defining and self-determining for the first time in their lives, but when the choices are identities like vampire and mad scientist there are always unwanted consequences lurking just out of sight. And a happy ending might not be one of the options.

Aug 06, 2018

Seanan McGuire is a gift for those of us who love dark fantasy with just a touch of realism. For a series whose books are short, the characters stick with you and get into your head. I've read this one and "Every Heart a Doorway" and I devoured both in one sitting because I was enthralled.

SCL_Justin Mar 01, 2018

On the advice of a colleague I read Down Among the Sticks and Bones before Every Heart a Doorway (the book it's prequel to). I enjoyed the story's take on parenting and expectations and the way that people aren't made to be just one thing. We are diverse and contradictory and contain multitudes. I think it was a good length, especially since there are other books in the series. It didn't need any padding and the relative sparseness let us focus on the characters actually here.

Oct 16, 2017

Well a helluva lot better than the first book, for starters. For a short novella, the characters and the world building was done well, but hard to tell if it's because I read the first book or no. In any case, I was a fan of Jack and Jill in the first book, and having them as the main characters in this one, definitely did not disappoint. Phew.

Sep 03, 2017

I really enjoyed this prequel to the first book. I hope there will be more, detailing the back stories of the characters first introduced in Every Heart A Doorway. This has just the right amount of creepiness without being overpowering. Definately not your average Fairy Tale story. Seanan McGuire is easily becoming one of my favourite authors. Almost every one that I've read have left me wanting more. Job very well done.

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JCLChrisK Nov 10, 2018

A single revelation does not change a life. It is a start.

JCLChrisK Nov 10, 2018

This, you see, is the true danger of children: they are ambushes, each and every one of them.

JCLChrisK Nov 10, 2018

Hope only got you hurt. Hope was her least favourite thing, of all the things.

Mar 15, 2018

"I think the rules were different there. It was all about science, but the science was magical. It didn’t care about whether something could be done. It was about whether it should be done, and the answer was always, always yes."

Mar 15, 2018

"Jacqueline and Jillian, who were crying for some of the many reasons that babies cry—they were cold, they were distressed, they were offended by the existence of gravity—continued to wail."

Mar 15, 2018

"I could give you children,” said Jack, sounding faintly affronted. “You’d have to tell me how many heads you wanted them to have, and what species you’d like them to be, but what’s the point of having all these graveyards if I can’t give you children when you ask for them?"

Jul 29, 2017

...and "yet" is such a powerful, unforgiving word that there is no questioning its truth, and no hiding from its promise.

Jul 29, 2017

People who knew Chester and Serena Wolcott socially would have placed money on the idea that the couple would never choose to have children.

Jul 19, 2017

It can be easy, when looking at children from the outside, to believe that they are things, dolls designed and programmed by their parents to behave in one manner, following one set of rules. It can be easy, when standing on the shores of adulthood, not to remember that every adult was once a child, with ideas and ambitions of their own.

Jul 19, 2017

Some adventures require nothing more than a willing heart and the ability to trip over the cracks in the world.

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haushallmartinez Aug 13, 2019

haushallmartinez thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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Jul 19, 2017

Once upon a time, twins Jacqueline and Jillian Wolcott opened a trunk in their attic, and found an impossible staircase that led down, down, down, to a magical world called The Moors. A world where Jack didn’t have to be the perfect girly girl for her mother, and Jill didn’t have to be the sports-loving tomboy standing in for an absent son. But still a world where they would have to be polar opposites in a different way, choosing between The Master and Dr. Bleak, the vampire, and the mad scientist. If they still have one thing in common, it is that they want to stay on the Moors forever. But we all know that doorways come calling when you least expect them.


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