Book Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Alas, we have our first 5-star read of 2019! Down Among the Sticks and Bones was an incredible journey. My one critique of the book is that pitching it as a sequel to Every Heart a Doorway is a misnomer. If anything, it is a prequel, but I would argue that it is simply a book that features two of the same characters in Every Heart a Doorway.

The book tells the story of Jack and Jill, two of the main characters from Every Heart a Doorway. It follows their early life up until their travel through the doorway to the Moors and then back again. The book is lovely and incredibly dark. Similarly to Every Heart a Doorway, it features beautiful literary writing.

One thing that I really like about Seanan McGuire’s book is the representation of diverse characters. Two of the characters in the book are lesbians but both of them are developed and given traits other than their sexuality. I often find that LGBTQIA+ characters are never developed beyond the point of identifying as LGBTQIA+. Furthermore, all of the characters (and the narrator) talk about the relationship in a completely normal way and do not blow out of proportion the fact that the two characters are in a non-heterosexual relationship. It was wonderful.

Additionally, one of the characters struggles with what is very clearly Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and becomes terrified of dirt and germs. She requires gloves when going out so as to protect her hands from dirt. Once again, this is only one aspect of who she is, not a defining factor. The people who love her and support her are overall very kind and understanding (other than her sister). No one makes too big a deal about it, and the words “obsessive” “compulsive” “disorder” and “OCD” are never mentioned. I appreciate this for two reasons: 1. I like authors who show rather than tell. McGuire clearly indicates to the reader that the protagonist has OCD without having to say it. 2. I just appreciate the fact that it is not stigmatized in the book.

That’s all I have to say about this book (without giving away spoilers). It was whimsical and dark. It was beautiful and lyrical and everything I could have ever wanted.

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