Since this series is composed of novellas I thought I’d do something different and make a series of “short” reviews on each one
Turns out I’m not that good at writing short things
“She was a story, not an epilogue.”
― Seanan McGuire,
The series was darker than I imagined since all I’d read about it was Home for children who went to magical worlds and then had to came back, but all of them want to return. Turns out there are murders and stuff.
The three books are completely different from each other, I’ll get into more detail for each one but the thing is that they explore different characters and experiences. They can be classified in: The going home, the coming back, and the return. (Not necessarily in that order)
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
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.
The coming back
Now, I’ve called this The coming back and there’s the obvious reason: Nancy came back from the underworld, and also because I feel like she came back to herself.
The Lord of the Dead sent her back so that she could be sure and Nancy thought she was but the door didn’t appear until she was prepared to stay. At the beginning she wasn’t even considering staying, it was impossible and that stopped her from seeing the possibilities she’d be leaving behind. Once she was settled and starting to see a future for herself then the door presented itself, when it’s be a real, conscious choice.
“Nobody gets to tell me how my story ends but me”
When murders start happening shortly after Nancy’s arrival everyone turns to look at the girl that came from the world of the dead, but it isn’t her. Still, she feels it’s her duty as a servant of the Lord of the Dead to put these bodies to rest. The story takes you through the investigation that the kids carry on and you get to meet you main characters.
Why didn’t ANY of the adults do anything to investigate? Like, I get you came from a non-sense world but come on Eleanor.
SO this book was amazing and the moment I put it down I went on audible to buy the next one. It was weird in a good way, the school gave me XMen feelings but it was its own creation as well. I really liked that Eleanor was a wayward child herself and so could talk to her students from a shared perspective. Maybe I’d have liked a bit more of world building, I needed to know more about the alignments and all the worlds the other children came from.
Nancy could have socialized a bit more since I doubt there were only two kids from under-worlds at the Home and the trope of the girl who is different than other girls doesn’t really fit the narrative of amazing personalities for each kid that this work carries.
Since it’s a novella, there isn’t much time to waste on things.
Let’s get on the murders, I thought the mystery was carried really well, I couldn’t figure out who did it and suddenly it was so obvious. The cruelty and coldness of the murderer were on point and what I’d expect from someone who comes from a dark world, though I must admit that it was kind of hard to understand until I read the next book.
“We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.”
― Seanan McGuire,
Let’s talk representation: It was good and I loved it. In this book our main character is Nancy, who is asexual and (I think) aromantic. I say that because I don’t remember her saying that exactly. She is clear in her orientation and says so to others who take an interest. She takes a liking to Kade, a trans boy who lives in the Home. Kade is fine once Nancy explains herself to him, since he was confused at first from her saying that she doesn’t feel attracted to people. That whole exchange felt like an Asexuality 101 and I’ve seen some people say it didn’t feel natural or that it was forced. Let me tell you, that’s mostly how coming out as ace is. You have to do a whole explanation on attraction and feelings to make others understand.
Kade! My sweet, responsible and overworked son. He went to a world of fairies and goblins to be a fairy princess when he was actually a goblin prince
shit happens It broke my heart when he said he would never be taken back because of who he was but luckily he has a support system on his aunt and the home. I loved how his being trans wasn’t everything there was. Like, sure, it’s there and things happened because of that but he is also brave and smart, he knows a lot about the different worlds and he takes care of all the kids in his own way.
I’ll hold of talking about Jack and Jill until the next book since that one is all about them. I also will wait to touch on Charlie since there wasn’t much of him here and there’s a lot on the thrid one.
Sumi was unexpected. She is the sidekick who introduces our mc into the new world and teaches her everything before disappearing for the sake of plot. We’ve seen this a million times over, only this time she was actually a pretty good character and I felt bad about her death. I don’t know if it’s because I thought she was too strong to be killed or because I was hoping to see her happy back with her candy corn farmer, but I wasn’t prepared for them to find her body and without her hands. It really drove the point in that this wasn’t a fairytale like those we are used to.
“You’re nobody’s rainbow.
You’re nobody’s princess.
You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you”
I know this was kind of rambling but I had a lot of feelings. Tell me in the comments if you’ve read this one and what you thought!
I have no idea when I’ll be posting the next one since my schedule is kind of a mess
what else is new but I’ll post it at some point