Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
This is the story of what happened first…
It is difficult to rate a book when you are absolutely furious with one of the protagonists.
Every Heart a Doorway, possibly the best book I read this year, is about the children who found doors to unfamiliar worlds, found a home, and had to return to their original world for one reason or another. Down Among the Sticks and Bones is more of a prequel than a sequel – it tells the story of Jack and Jill from their birth up to the point where they have to leave their found home.
Jack was one of my favourites in the first book, and she kept that title throughout this one. I’ve also grown attached to her chosen master. The bigger problem was with Jill: I didn’t care much for her in the first book, and her behaviour in this one (including a couple of fatphobic comments) certainly didn’t help matters. I tried to understand Jill, and maybe I do, somewhat, but understanding doesn’t mean sympathy or affection.
Since this is a prequel and the girls already talked about being cast out in the first book, in a way I already knew what was going to happen, where it was all leading up to, but reading it was still different.
The first part of the book is about the girls’ childhood at home with their parents – their frankly horrible parents who are emotionally abusive and unfit to be parents, which is made clear enough in the book. This part was mostly neutral for me.
Once in the Moors, Jack’s and Jill’s POVs divide more. It’s no secret that I enjoyed Jack’s more, partly because of the included f/f romance, which doesn’t get much “screentime” but is still an important part of the story.
(Spoilery note/warning: It does not have a happy ending and ends with Jack’s girlfriend dying.)
I feel like this review comes off as more negative than I intended. It’s true that I enjoyed this book less than the first one, and there are some parts I’m angry at, but it still deserves the whole five stars and goes on the favourites shelf. I love the worldbuilding, even if it is somewhat cliché – but in this book, I think being cliché, being familiar is sort of the point.
My rating: ★★★★★💖