Jack and Jill went up the hill… well in through the bottom of a trunk in the attic, one hanging out with a vampire, the other studying under a crazy scientist who likes to bring back the dead. You know, a wholesome child-like tale.
Genre: YA, Fantasy, LGBT
No. of pages: 187
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
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.
Again, I enjoyed the fable-like writing style of Seanan McGuire. As if some unseen television compare was sitting in a leather wingback chair by a fireplace re-counting the tale of twins Jaquline (Jack) and Jillian (Jill). Their journey through a portal into a world of vampires, werewolves, and mad scientists. It was also a tale that included a running commentary on gender roles and how we change ourselves to fit the labels other thrust upon us.
Such a brilliant novella, beautifully written, with interesting characters in an imaginative world.
I did struggle a bit with ‘Down Among the Sticks and Bones’ though – for some reason I wasn’t as engaged as I was with ‘Every Heart a Doorway.’ Quite possibly it was the subtext of Dracula and Frankenstein… something making it feel less original. Also, I’m not the biggest fan of fantasy, especially re-hashed material. So I was putting the book down frequently for a rest.
The other thing is that the novella just ended once the twins returned to the real world – a tale of their past – and did not tie into the narrative established in ‘Every Heart a Doorway.’ I was anxious for that storyline to continue a bit. It’s got me wondering if ‘Beneath the Sugar Sky,’ the third book in the series will follow the same format. That we will get individual back-stories of the main cast before the plot picks back up from where it left off at the end of the debut. I’m not sure how this sits with me. On one hand I’m very curious, but on the other, I desire the plot to move forward…
I also found it difficult to relate, to or sympathise with, either Jack or Jill. They were so single minded and I almost felt like their characters were somewhat two dimensional. Too heavily shaped by parents and mentors that they never really got to discover themselves free of influence. My head felt tight as the story of their childhood, and years on the moors were just different shaped cages. It make me squirm and want to scream. I guess that’s what you get delving into a darker place.
The ending, though surprising, was more so because I couldn’t rationalise it. It didn’t make sense to me. Only time will tell with further exploration of these characters and their relationship in future novellas as to whether or not I can accept them, or simply remain a thorn in my side.
A great story, interesting characters, but a story that annoyed me somewhat. But still a highly recommended read. Looking forward to discovering what ‘Beneath the Sugar Sky’ has in store for me.
Overall feeling: Creeptastic.
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