I enjoyed Every Heart a Doorway for the way it explored portal fantasy tropes but it only went so far, what with a whole host of characters packed into a novella. This is why Down Among the Sticks and Bones is the better book, because is takes just one of those stories and tells it fully. It is the backstory of Jack and Jill (or Jacqueline and Jillian) and is standalone (although I think if you’re going to read both books, start with the first).

Real places didn’t go away just because you’d had a nap.

At its heart is a cautionary tale for parents. One, children are not accessories or status symbols, and two, you shouldn’t force a child to be something they are not. Their high-achieving parents wanted a boy but they got twin girls. Their father encourages Jillian to do boy things and their mother dresses Jacqueline up like a princess. They force more and more gender based restrictions on the girls as they grow, both becoming miserable in their shaped identities.

She had tried to make sure they knew that there were a hundred, a thousand, a million different ways to be a girl, and that all of them were valid, and that neither of them was doing anything wrong.

So yes, let your kids do what they want to do and be who they want to be. When the twins discover a door into another world, they get a chance to be new people despite having to apprentice to a vampire and a mad scientist.

As it’s a prequel of sorts, you know that they are cast out of the world where they feel like they belong, so the book has a bittersweet tone throughout. It’s no wonder Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children needs to exist, it’s so sad.

The Moors exist in eternal twilight, in the pause between the lightning strike and the resurrection. They are a place of endless scientific experimentation, of monstrous beauty, and of terrible consequences.

I love how this series of novellas is structured, a tempting glimpse of other worlds in the first book and then the characters get individual books to explain what happened when they stepped through their portals. The third book is about Rini and Sumi and a confectionery based nonsense world, which I’m looking forward to. I hope there are more books planned in this series too.

Science Fiction vs Fantasy Bingo: Portal
POPSUGAR Challenge: 30. A book with characters who are twins
Read Harder: A one-sitting book

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive | Wordery

Book Source: Purchased