Books in series: Every Heart a Doorway (1), Down Among the Sticks and Bones (2), Beneath the Sugar Sky (3)
Published: Tor books
My rating: 4.5* overall (Every Heart a Doorway 5*, Down Among the Sticks and Bones 4*, Beneath the Sugar Sky 5*)
Genres: fantasy, young adult
I’ve been meaning to write a series review for Wayward Children for so long. It’s one of my favourite series ever and even though it did get a bit of BookTube hype it still deserves more attention.
This series is so incredibly charming and has so many unusual and loveable characters it’s almost impossible not to fall instantly in love. There are too more (at least) book planned for this series, and I am thrilled. Seanan McGuire has truly created a world I will happily visit over and over again.
The characters are probably my favourite thing about this series. Every single character in this story is so well developed, all possessing unique hobbies and characters traits. There’s mad scientists, girls who love dresses, girls who bake, girls who swim, girls who love climbing. There’s clothes designers and music players and so much more.
Populating her series with so many different types of characters definitely worked in Seanan McGuire’s favour. Every character feels fresh. And honestly, having characters who’s hobby isn’t READING is a breath of fresh air. I’m so glad every single character is so different and offers something new to this series.
I also find all the kids so charming. The characters make me laugh so often and I really like that there’s that strong undercurrent of humour and absurdity in this series. But I also liked that each character has definitely weaknesses, flaws and most of all, insecurities that become important parts of their stories too.
I would definitely say this is a character driven series over plot driven. Therefore, I don’t think plot is this series strongest link. Despite that, I’ve always enjoyed what Seanan McGuire has done with these books.
Book one, two and three all have very distinctive plots. Book one is a murder mystery set in Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, where kids who have travelled to other worlds through doors come to when they’ve return from their fantasy lands.
Book two follows Jack and Jill specifically, and explores The Moors – the creepy, supernatural type world they went into and what happened to them while they were there.
Book three follows Sumi’s daughter Rini in her Candyland type world. Personally, this was my favourite one plot wise because I really enjoyed the “racing against the clock” element the plot had. It made it really exciting.
While plot is not necessarily the strongest point, this is compensated by the characters and by no means do I think the plots are bad.
Another real highlight for me when it comes to this series is Seanan McGuire’s dedication to including diverse characters in her books and giving them good representation. This series is filled with all sorts of identities and it’s so good to see. Prominent characters include: Nancy, an asexual girl. Kade, a trans boy. Christopher, a mexican-american boy. Sumi and Rini, both Japanese. Jack, a lesbian girl and Cora, a fat girl. And there are many more, these are just off the top of my head.
I also really liked how inclusivity plays a key theme. Eleanor West stresses the importance of being respectful and understanding of eachother. I like that any discrimination is always called out, but above that I like that these kids are just nice to eachother about their identities. It feels safe and refreshing, whilst not going the cop out “there just IS no discrimination route”, which I think can be sometimes lazy.
But really I also think it’s nice that identity is important while not being THE MOST important thing. For example, Nancy in book one briefly has a moment where she wonders what her crush would think of her asexuality, but the more important problem overall is that there is school murder happening. I think Seanan McGuire hits a perfect tone between acknowledging and exploring how identities effect people, without making these books ALL ABOUT BEING MARGINALISED.
The final thing I want to talk about this series is its endless potential. Seanan McGuire already has 5 books planned (including the three out) and it could so easily be more. She really has created such an expansive world and every book just adds to her world. I think this is so excellent and I really hope she writes heaps of these I WOULD READ THEM.
Because every book is set in the same world but is not necessarily interconnected plot wise, you can just read the ones that interest you, if you want. And I think thats awesome.
I also think there is so much room to grow this into something more serious if she wanted to and this all excites me. It makes me want more books and honestly, I think a series that makes you wish there were more books is the strongest kind of series. Because we all know series can flop so quickly. And well all know some drag on too long. But this series has so many places to go and grow and it excites me.
This series continuously makes it onto my “most anticipated releases” list and I can’t see that changing. There’s such a perfect blend of elements here: charm, humour, creep, horror, absurdity. Loveable but realistic characters, interesting worlds, relevant and meaningful commentary on social issues. All wrapped up in adventurous plots and outrageous worlds.
I can’t wait for more books to be released (Praying for a Kade centric one to be honest) and I am constantly recommending these books. They’re so short and easy to read, but pack such a big punch. And I really think there’s a little something for everyone inside this series pages.