Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children, #5
Publication date: January 7, 2020
Genre: fantasy, portal fantasy
My rating: 4.5/5 stars
Let me start this by saying that Seanan McGuire is an absolute gem. Her writing is always brilliant, and I absolutely adore all the worlds she created in this series, so I of course was looking forward to getting to further explore them in this latest installment. In fact, after Down Among the Sticks and Bones, Jack and Jill quickly became my favorite characters in the series (alongside Kade, but alas, he hasn’t gotten his own book yet). However, this wasn’t a five-star read–honestly, it’s on the lower end of the 4.5-star rating. I guess I just didn’t quite feel the same “spark” with this one that I did with some others from the series. (Was that a pun referencing the excessive lightning in the Moors? Maybe…)
Anyway, given that it is a short book, I don’t quite feel up to a full review, but here is the publisher’s blurb, followed by my thoughts in a quick bulleted list for your enjoyment/reference. Please be aware, there are some spoilers in here for the earlier books in the series, if you haven’t read them yet–though, of course, no spoilers on this particular installment!
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.
- Seanan’s writing is as magical and melodic as ever.
- So glad we got more of Jack and Jill’s story (well, really just Jack; Jill I could do without), and the ending makes me think there could be more…
- On that note, the tension and moral difficulty of the situation Jack finds herself in, with a murderer as her sister and the lives of those she loves all in mortal peril if she doesn’t commit sororicide, is rendered exquisitely.
- Also, the OCD rep in Jack’s storyline was done in a way that felt completely respectful and not exploitative.
- Kade is wonderful. I need more of that brave, kind, intelligent, self-sacrificing Goblin Prince in my life.
- Christopher deserves his skeleton girl back, and tbh I feel like he is so often forgotten/overlooked by other characters, but he just rolls with it and is still such a good friend. Mad props to that kid.
- I always forget how smart Sumi is, but damn, this book really reminded me how wise that bizarre little girl on a perpetual sugar high can be.
- Also, lmao Sumi shamelessly flirting with a cute stranger was vaguely uncomfy but also hilarious.
- Cora getting to see some other worlds’ versions of mermaids? Very cool, I like this angle.
- The Moors is definitely the most interesting of the worlds in this series, and I’m very curious what comes next there.
- I was disappointed at how rushed everything felt this time around. These books always fly past (I mean, that’s what happens when they’re only 200 pages long…), but this one had an epic battle of sorts near the end that felt way too short.
Overall: still enchanting and creepy and poignant as I’ve come to expect from Seanan, just not quite as an enchanting as some others of hers. As you might expect, I am anxiously awaiting the next installment already.