This fills the Home square of the CBR Bingo card quite nicely! It’s taken me a long time to get around to reading the Wayward Children series and i actually started with book 2- Down among the sticks and bones.
Wayward children is about a school/home for children who have been “taken into fairyland”. There are many lands, all of them different from outs. There is a rough schematic of how these worlds fall relative to each other- between logic and nonsense and virtue and wickedness. Some children come back to our world happy to return. Some do not. Miss Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children is where they end up as they try to cope, and try to return to their true home.
Every Heart a Doorway starts with the arrival of Nancy, who has been in one of the underworlds, and wants desperately to go back. She only left to confirm that she was making the conscious choice to stay there. Her parents do not understand and have been persuaded by Miss West that this is the solution. Miss West is a former(ish) wayward girl and is trying to help them.
Nancy is placed with an energetic roommate who helps her understand the school and through her eyes the reader gets an understanding as well. The various personalities of the school are on display- and there are a lot of conflicts. The skills and understanding needed to survive in these different worlds can be conflicting and cause conflicts- even more than the average high school.
But there is peace of a sort. They all know that each of them has lost something they valued, and that they are all, in one way or another, trying to go “home”.
Then Nancy’s roommate is murdered and her clever hands taken, then another student. Students are trying to work out who is doing this before the school has to shut.
It’s a really interesting concept, the story of what happens to the children who disappear into other worlds when they come back. The idea that every world has different mechanisms and requires different responses is also fascinating. The interactions at the school, how students helped, or didn’t, each other as a result fo their experiences. The ultimate logic of the killer is important- it is all an attempt to go home. In taking each of the parts a perfect girl will be built to unlock the door and the killer can go home. In the end this facilitates the return for some students to their other spaces, although not all.
Down among the sticks and bones starts in a very different way, about a couple who never should have had children. Not because they harm their children directly, but because they do not understand that their children are people outside their own wants and personality. So when they have twin girls, one is raised as a tomboy, to meet her father’s ambitions, and one as a girly girl to meet her mother’s. No one asks the girls what they want. Then one day while looking in the play trunk their grandmother left them they discover a flight of stair traveling down. The come out in the Moors. When they are taken to the castle of the local lord, a mad doctor comes and claims that he had the right to the next foundling that appeared. Because there are two, the two are given the choice- one can stay with the lord and one with the doctor, or possibly both with the doctor.
Each makes a choice, and will grow up with the consequences of the choice.
I enjoyed both of these. They are quite different stories, although they do intersect in the first book. The idea that you can be more at home somewhere other then where you came from and the importance of found families is not an uncommon theme in books, particularly YA. This was an intriguing take on it, and I appreciated how the details came together. I also really enjoy reading a series where books focus on different main characters, rather always on the same protagonist, who gets more skilled (perfect) but also have increasingly terrible things happen. SO this series feeds my preference for stories set in the same world, but with different people starring.
FOur out of five stars!