This is the latest of the Wayward Children novellas, and it returns the reader to the world of the Moors – the home that Jack and Jill found when they went through their door. McGuire’s second novella explored Jack and Jill’s life before they attended the Home for Wayward Children. I actually hadn’t expected her to return the Moors, but Jack and Jill’s return at the end of the Every Heart a Doorway had certainly left the potential to explore more of their story.
The novel begins in Christopher’s room, formerly Jack’s, as lightning strikes in his basement. A door follows the lightning, and two teen girls come through – a girl none of them know and what appears to be Jill. Sumi quickly corrects them that is Jack in Jill’s body, and once they wake the unconscious twin, Jack confirms that Jill and her master did indeed force her mentor to perform a body swap between the two. Jack has to go back to the Moors to regain her true body before she cracks from the wrongness and save her chosen home as Jill and the Master are about to shift the balance of the Moors. The only place she could think to go to regroup was her former school, and she quickly finds allies to go back with her, including Sumi, Kade, Cora and Christopher – despite the school’s no quest rule.
Since I liked the Moors and the idea of a world where the mad scientist and the evil vampire master serve to keep each other in check, I was happy enough to go back. I liked this one more than some other novellas in the series, but I also felt like it was more distant? McGuire has had a slightly omniscient perspective in all of these, but she also has used one character’s view point to provide that emotional connection. In Down Among the Sticks and Stones, the narrator reveals Jack’s emotional inner life, and while the first novel used Nancy as its center. This novella lacked that. She briefly touched on Cora and Christopher’s view points but it felt more removed. Even the insights into Jack seemed to be mostly ones she shared vocally or statements other made about her rather than from the narrator? That might be incorrect, it just felt like this novella let us less into people’s heads and was more focused on the actions required to happen to get to the end.