An absolutely fantastic follow up to Every Heart A Doorway, Down Among The Sticks and Bones gives us the back story to two of the most interesting characters from its predecessor, showing us how Jack and Jill found themselves at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children in an outing that is so brilliant I found myself devouring it within hours before turning around and reading it all over again.
Jack and Jill weren’t always who we now know them to be. Born Jacqueline and Jillian to two parents who only really had children because it was the done thing, theirs was a childhood in which they were assigned attributes early by their parents – Jacqueline was going to be the pretty one while Jillian would be the tomboy to replace the son their father wanted. With the only love they’re shown coming from their grandmother, who’s packed off as soon as their parents realise the bond, theirs have been lonely lives in which they’ve struggled to fulfil the roles their parents have laid out for them.
Twelve years old when they find their door in the old dress-up trunk left in their grandmother’s room, Jacqueline and Jillian find themselves on the Moor, a lightning lit world in which a vampire holds dominion over the local village while engaged in a strange truce with a mad scientist with a taste for reanimation. And once each twin has chosen their master from this pair, they start to become who they truly are.
Despite apparently not being the pretty one, Jill is beautiful, ruthless, and seething with jealousy over those who her sister chooses to spend time with. Meanwhile Jack soon finds out that she’s really quite clever, prefers to wear homespun trousers than flouncy dresses, and is nursing a crush on a curvy village girl. But Jill’s jealousy and desperate desire to become like her master puts events in motion that will see the girls forced to leave their home and find their way back to the ‘real’ world.
I loved every single moment of this book, and could happily (and will probably) re-read it a hundred more times without losing any of my enthusiasm for it. And considering just how awesome this is, I can’t wait to see what comes next in this series.