Book Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones

 

sticks and bones

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…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

Pros – Jack, the Moors, Jill (yes I’m surprised)

Cons – None. Except you know poor Jack’s happiness…

Notes – While technically the second book in the Wayward Children series, this is a prequel to EVERY HEART A DOORWAY in terms of Jack & Jill’s story. As such if you already read EVERY HEART you know the outcome of Jack’s choice here, but the choices made to get to that choice are what’s most intriguing.

Review – In EVERY HEART A DOORWAY we were introduced to Jack and Jill, twins so polar opposite that even knowing they are related is at times hard for the protagonist Nancy to believe. Jill was fragile and dreaming with a decidedly looser grasp on any form of reality. Jack was rooted in the here and now, in science and what she could take apart and inspect. Throughout EVERY HEART Nancy observes some tension between the two, but their story was not the one she was chasing so she did not dig into it or judge (a very important lesson taught by the school).

Throughout both speak of the Moors as this terrifying and beautiful place. A harsh place with even harsher rules. Both girls long for it however, or for the lives they lived and the world that accepted and freed them.

With the ending of EVERY HEART we see Jack depart with her sister and sort of finality that left the impression that come what may, the choice she made was the best for them both.

With DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES we see why both of them were so enchanted by the place. Why for Jack it was a place of exploration, science and answers that led to more questions and more tests. Why for Jill it was a place she could indulge her whims in, free from consequence largely.

The book begins much earlier in their timeline than Nancy’s did in EVERY HEART. We see the twins born, we see the parents make a decision of who they would be and how they would act very early on in their lives. We see what influences caused Jack to be loyal and protective of her sister despite everything as well what ultimately became a wedge between them so that by the time their door opened very little was similar about the two indeed.

In EVERY HEART Jack was one of my favorite characters. Really they were all my favorite to some degree or another, but Jack in particular…her worldview made sense. Whereas Nancy was my mirror in terms of not understanding why I could not just be (and why others insisted on trying to shove me into spaces I was not “for my own good”), Jack very much embodied who I wished I could be. And this book gave me some insight into the fact that Jack didn’t start out as who she wanted to be either.

That certainty of purpose, that assurance of knowledge – she fought for that. She bled for that. She gave up a lot for it and it was hers. Nothing could take it from her…except Jill.

Jill who never quite caught up to Jack. Jill who, not maliciously or cruelly, wanted Jack to put her at the center of her world. Jill sort of…broke I guess. The world went topsy-turvey for her before they ended up in the Moors and just grew more and more confusing as she acclimated to a life that got her in over her head too quickly.

I can understand why Jack felt responsible for her. Why she felt guilty even. While Jack was off finding a life that she was comfortable in, Jill was trying desperately to find what she was suited for. What they were before the Moors could no longer help her because for the first time Jack was the brave one. Jack who rooted around in cadavers and blood and weird potions in a dusty laboratory. Jack found kinship with her teacher and with others in the village. Jill meanwhile was learning all the wrong lessons while trying desperately to prove she was learning all the right ones.

STICKS AND BONES is heart breaking, especially at the end when because of Jill another choice has to be made for Jack that involves putting her loyalty to her sister at odds with her happiness. It also makes what happens at the end of EVERY HEART bittersweet.

Want to Know More?

Published by: Tor.com
Release: June 13, 2017
Series: Second in Series
+ Book 1: EVERY HEART A DOORWAY review
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Connect with Seanan: Twitter | Goodreads | Website

lexie

Lexie Words

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