Down Among the Sticks and Bones is the Second Book in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children Series and I loved it even more than the first. This novella gives us the backstory of Jack and Jill (formally named Jacqueline and Jillian), twin sisters who were raised to have very specific gender roles, whether they actually wanted them or not. Their parents, who always did everything perfectly, expected one girl and one boy. When they didn’t get their expected male child, they decided to make Jillian into a tomboy and Jacqueline into a pampered princess. The girls start to chafe against their assigned roles, and while playing one day they discover a descending staircase in an old chest. At the bottom of the stairs is a door, and written on it is BE SURE.
The door takes the girls to The Moors, a mysterious world that feels very much like the old Universal Monster movies of the 1930s. Jill falls under the spell of the mysterious Master and is finally allowed to wear pretty dresses and be the pampered princess. Jack goes to live with Dr. Bleak, a Mad Scientist and she gets to wear practical trousers and get dirty.
Once again, McGuire’s writing is so lyrical and evocative, that it feels like eating a rich chocolate cake.
“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.”
The book is less than 200 pages, but it feels like reading something longer, in the best way possible. I am already halfway through Book 3, and I can’t wait to get back to it.