Author: Seanan McGuire
Publication Date: 5. April 2016
Diversity: LGBT Characters
Rating: 4./5. Stars
TW: transphobia, misgendering, murder, gore
Summary: Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.
But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.
Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.
But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.
No matter the cost.
Children sometimes find their own worlds. They crawl through small cracks, they tumble down a rabbit hole, they walk through the back of a wardrobe and they end up somewhere else. In a place that’s so vastly different from our world, that the children that end up coming back, are changed. Eleanor West has a place where the despairing parents can send their children. A place where the children will be helped, but not like the parents think, not by telling them they must be imagining what happened, but by being believed and by being surrounded by other children who also went home.
This story is strange and sometimes reads like a fairytale with its eerie style, but it’s also full of wit and humor and friendship. And murder. And it’s simply incredibly good.
It’s a story about children who stumbled, crawled, walked, jumped and fell into fairytale-like worlds, who came back and weren’t believed, who now have to deal with the things they had to learn to survive in their world when those things are now annoying at best and dangerous at worst.
The cast of characters is fascinating. There’s Nancy, the main character, who returned from an Underworld in which she served the Lord of Death and her parents can’t handle how she changed. She for her own part feels like she doesn’t belong here, in this world of the living, this world where everything moves so fast. And she just wants to go back.
This book has amazing representation too. There’s Nancy, who’s asexual and Kade, a transboy. Both of them are important characters in the story, and especially the asexual part is explained really well. Also, this is probably the first book ever in which I read the word aromantic. While there are no aro characters in the book, it is explained that asexuality and aromanticism are not the same thing and one person can be one without being the other. This was really, really great to read. But none of these identities are the main focus of the stories. This is not a coming out story. This is a murder mystery and a fairytale and a story about friendship and growing up, except it also features a diverse cast.
Oh, and have I mentioned that the writing is amazing? It fits the setting of the book so well! It’s eerie and it worked really, really well for this story. I absolutely adored it.
The only problem I have with this book is that I would have loved some more explanation about the doors. Why are they there? I would have loved more descriptions of more different worlds. It sounds like there are all these amazing worlds with just a bit of everything in them and it would have been great to see a bit more of that. The Characters could also have been fleshed out a tad more, but there was so much plot going on that I didn’t really mind in the end.
Oh and just to give out a quick warning, there are some scenes that are quite gory (I mean there is a bit of murder going on after all) as well as two scenes where a character is a transphobic, misgendering douche, but she is called out for that and nobody lets her get away with it.
So if you don’t mind very plot-driven stories with a fascinating mythology, this is definitely the perfect book for you. It fit really well for me and I have to say I’m incredibly excited for the sequel in which one of the worlds will be explored in detail! (I am so excited! This is exactly the thing that I missed in this novel and I will get it? Yes!)