Hey all, Dani here.
It’s a D&D day for me here in Ohio, so when this post goes live I’ll be in the middle of a session, and hopefully my character will have survived the boss fight we’re about to face. Or, if she dies, I hope it’s in some epic way. Honestly it’s sort of fun to chat about Dungeons and Dragons as an intro to today’s review post, because the author also plays D&D, and she has talked on Twitter about some not-very-nice situations she was in during her very early days with the game. I’m terribly sorry that she had to deal with all of the gatekeeping and awful treatment from players and dungeon masters, but I can also say that I am so pleased that those negative experiences did not end up ruining her love of all things fantasy.
So anyway, today I’m back to talk about the fifth book in her Wayward Children series, and while most of this series can be read in any order, this one really should be read after Down Among the Sticks and Bones, because Jack and Jill are the main focus there and this one definitely spoils some of the events from that one. Really though, each book in this series is just over 200 pages; it won’t take much time at all to catch up on this excellent portal fantasy series. Oh, I guess I should say that this means that I might refer to spoilers from earlier books in the series.
Okay, let’s jump into the review.
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
ISBN: 0765399318 (ISBN13: 9780765399311)
The fifth installment in Seanan McGuire’s award-winning, bestselling Wayward Children series, Come Tumbling Down picks up the threads left dangling by Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones
When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister–whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice–back to their home on the Moors.
But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.
Eleanor West’s “No Quests” rule is about to be broken.
Rating: 4 stars
My biggest complaint about this whole series is that they are each only like 200 pages long, and I could easily see them having another 100-200 pages. Still, I fly through them and find them to be intriguing and whimsical and quirky and diverse and wonderful, and this installment was no exception to that. When I pick one of these up to read, I find myself drawn in by the writing and the characters, and it’s like I can’t look away. I think I’ve pretty much read each of these in a single setting, if not a single day for those days when I just have a lot to do.
I think perhaps this actually is the conclusion for Jack and Jill’s story, though there are still plenty of other Wayward Children we can revisit or who have been introduced without being the main character just yet. If you read the books in publication order, which I recommend even though it isn’t necessarily required, then we first meet the twins in Every Heart a Doorway, and then Down Among the Sticks and Bones is a sequel that chronologically is actually a prequel. It seems to me that when a creator gives us a series in a certain order there is a reason for that. Yes, some will read in publication order, while others will read chronologically. Sometimes I’ll do them in chronological order as well, but that’s typically only when dealing with a re-read.
Jack and Jill have had an odd and a bit twisted life, and in this book we definitely learn a bit more about them, or specifically about their home and life on the Moors, which definitely had sort of a mad scientist/Frankenstein/necromantic feel to it.
This book also deals quite heavily with Jack and her struggles with OCD and the like. Honestly it still amazes and baffles me how so much care can be given to these characters, when it comes to romantic and/or sexual identity, mental health, and overall identity in such a short number of pages. Every character feels delightfully real, complex, and filled with dreams and flaws and experiences that make them all unique.
It is also amazing how the different laws and rules and magics of each realm work, which I think is one of the best parts of portal fantasy. Yes, many of these worlds are similar to book worlds or movie worlds that we’ve seen before, but the way Seanan McGuire handles it all is fantastic.
I definitely love this series, and they make me want to read more portal fantasy books. Obviously I’m super excited about the announcement of a sixth book in the series, and I very much look forward to reading it next January.
Where to Get a Copy
You can also check with your local library.