Children have always had a habit of disappearing into different worlds, whether they’ve strayed off a path in the woods or climbed into a wardrobe during a game of hide and seek, but what happens to those children once they come back home?
For many of those children, they never wanted to return in the first place. And for the parents of those children, they just want their child to be the one they were before they disappeared, stop talking nonsense about the fairy worlds they’ve visited, and knuckle down to their school work. For both those parents and those children, Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children performs a vital service. The parents send their children there thinking they’ll be rehabilitated back to normality, while the children find the school is actually set up to help them try to find their way back to what they consider to be their real homes.
Into this set-up steps Nancy, recently returned from a stint with the Lord of the Dead where she learned to be still and quiet and lacking in colour. With her parents desperate to stuff her back into the primary colours she wore before she went away, Nancy is reluctantly enrolled in the school where she meets her strange new peers.
There’s Sumi, her room-mate, who spent a considerable amount of time in a nonsense world and continues to behave as though she’s still there. There’s Kade, who was kicked out of his world due to not being the girl they thought he was, and there’s Jack and Jill, returned from rather more horrific worlds that included vampires, mad scientists, and pitchfork wielding villagers. But when first Sumi and then another schoolmate is killed and the eye of suspicion falls on the new girl and the horror world weirdos she counts as friends, Nancy and her friends must find the real culprit before more of their schoolmates turn up dead.
I really enjoyed the world built in this little tale, and really enjoyed the fact that the it was a diverse one – I can’t remember coming across the heroine of such a book being asexual before, as well as there being other types of gender and sexuality on display that merely happen to be different facets of different characters rather than Big Deals or Important Plot Points, which was rather refreshing.
A slight book that’s big on enjoyment, pick this up if you need to escape from the real world for a little while.