The dark, beguiling fifth entry in McGuire’s Wayward Children series, about a boarding school for visitors from portal worlds, continues the story of polar opposite twin sisters Jack and Jill Wolcott from the second book, 2017’s Down Among the Sticks and Bones. Back in their menacing home world, the Moors, sensible Jack has no higher ambition than to apprentice to the scientist Dr. Bleak and settle down with her reanimated fiancée, while deranged Jill dreams of being adopted by the vampire Master. Jill’s body, which died and was reanimated once before, is unable to become a vampire, so to achieve her dream Jill betrays her sister, forcing Jack to undergo a painful procedure to swap their bodies. For Jack, who has OCD, being trapped in another’s form is a nightmare. She enlists the help of her old friends at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children to get her body back before Jill and the Master destroy the Moors entirely. Themes of sacrifice, love, and hope weave through this grim yet achingly tender tale. New and returning readers alike will be enthralled. (Jan.)
The ghoulishly dysfunctional Wolcott twins—mad scientist Jack and her sister, Jill, who aspires to be a vampire—return for the fifth Wayward Children novel (In an Absent Dream, 2019, etc.).
Through a door etched by lightning, Jack reappears at Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, a refuge for those children who found a portal to one of many magical worlds but couldn't cope when they wound up back on Earth again. Jack isn't quite who she was when she first left; she's presently stuck in the resurrected body of Jill, whom Jack had previously killed in order to put an end to Jill's targeted slaughter campaign at the school. Meanwhile, Jill's mind inhabits Jack's still-living flesh, thanks to a coerced body-swap instigated by Jill's vampire master. This state of affairs is distressing for two main reasons: 1. Jack has obsessive-compulsive disorder, which manifests in a pathological fear of being dirty, physically and mentally, and can't be comfortable in Jill's mass-murdering body, and 2. The resurrected can't become vampires, so Jill plans to use her sister's more vital body for that purpose. Accompanied by her twice-resurrected lover, Alexis, and several students, Jack goes home to her beloved world of the Moors, a blood-tinged and gothically gloomy mashup of Stoker, Shelley, and Lovecraft, to confront her narcissistic, body-stealing twin while her schoolmates must dodge the Moors' deadly traps and haunting temptations. McGuire (Middlegame, 2019, etc.) specializes in lending equal richness to her worldbuilding and her characterizations; these are real people dumped into fantastical situations. In this novel, she examines the thin line separating heroes from monsters—and then blurs that line completely. As in the other series installments, she also argues that one's real or perceived flaws can prove to be a source of strength despite, or even because of, the pain they cause to oneself and others.
Grotesque, haunting, lovely.
"[Come Tumbling Down is] Grotesque, haunting, lovely." Kirkus (starred review)
Praise for Every Heart a Doorway
"With Every Heart a Doorway, McGuire has created her own mini-masterpiece of portal fantasy a jewel of a book that deserves to be shelved with Lewis Carroll's and C. S. Lewis' classics, even as it carves its own precocious space between them." NPR
"Seanan McGuire has long been one of the smartest writers around, and with this novella we can easily see that her heart is as big as her brain." Charlaine Harris
"One of the most extraordinary stories I've ever read." V. E. Schwab
"This is a gorgeous story: sometimes mean, sometimes angry, and always exciting." Cory Doctorow for BoingBoing
"So mindblowingly good, it hurts." io9
"McGuire's lyrical prose makes this novella a rich experience." Library Journal starred review
"This gothic charmer is a love letter to anyone who's ever felt out of place." Publishers Weekly
"Seanan McGuire once again demonstrates her intimate knowledge of the human heart in a powerful fable of loss, yearning and damaged children." Paul Cornell, author of London Falling and Witches of Lychford
Going home is all that the students living at Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children wanted. Jack Wolcott succeeded, after killing her twin sister, Jill, and carrying her back to the Moors where they belonged. In the Moors, death is not necessarily the end. Now Jack is the one being carried, back to the school, in the arms of her love, Alexis—and in Jill's body. Identical twin aside, Jack wants her own body back, and her friends at Eleanor West's school are ready to break the rules again to make sure their former schoolmate gets everything her heart desires. Themes of dysphoria and gender are smartly inserted through McGuire's rich prose, with heartfelt scenes keeping each character from getting lost in the action. VERDICT The fifth volume of the "Wayward Children" series (after In an Absent Dream) gives readers the epic ending (is it really the end?) of Jack and Jill's story line. Once again, McGuire gives readers a starkly poignant tale of longing, love, and belonging.—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton