Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Narrated by: Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children, Book 2
Length: 4 hrs and 4 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (685 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Seanan McGuire returns to her popular Wayward Children series with Down Among the Sticks and Bones - a truly stand-alone story suitable for adult and young adult listeners of urban fantasy, and the follow-up to the Alex Award-winning, Hugo and Nebula finalist, Tiptree Honor List Every Heart a Doorway.

Twin sisters Jack and Jill were 17 when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first....

Jacqueline was her mother's perfect daughter - polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it's because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father's perfect daughter - adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tomboy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you've got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can't be trusted. They were 12 when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

This program is read by the author.

©2017 Seanan McGuire (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

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What listeners say about Down Among the Sticks and Bones

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    5 out of 5 stars

Spectacular fairy tale from an amazing author/narrator!

I always worry when I see that the author is narrating their work, because you know, story TELLING is usually distinct from STORY telling. But listening to Seanan McGuire, I actually had thoughts of olden days, when Bards were very highly valued and powerful people in society who were more like wizards than the modern image of a short-sighted writer in a fuzzy cardigan and glasses hunched over a typewriter with a cat nearby. M's. McGuire wrapped her voice, her bones-deep knowledge of the story and every word, every turn of phrase, around every utterance. She brings the compassion of the storyteller who knows and lives the people in the story, but also the dark foreknowledge that in old-school fairy tales, the heros (heroines) don't get to live "happily ever after."

I had already listened to and absolutely loved "Every Heart a Doorway" and was deeply impressed by that book's rich flavors and textures - but there wasn't enough about Jack and Jill. Together, the two short novels are far more than either could ever be alone, though the are also undeniably separate and different - like weighty though slim bookends.

Anyone worried about whether they will like a "kid's book" should think again. The old Grimm fairy tales were nobody's Goodnight Moon, and children who went astray suffered serious, often fatal, consequences. Seanan McGuire's pair of books are imho instant classics steeped in history, dangers (of modern parenting especially!), finding your place and coming of age, and real love of others, even when they don't necessarily deserve it. And regret that things happened as they did, and maybe - probably? - had to happen that way. Or did they?

Highest recommendation for this book, especially as the prequel to Every Heart a Doorway. Worth 2 credits despite the short length that always makes me wonder if a book is long enough to be "worth it." Yes. This one is a treasured keeper!

5 people found this helpful

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A macabre prequel to Every Heart a Doorway

Readers of McGuire's Every Heart a Doorway will recognize Jack and Jill, the identical twins Jacqueline and Jillian, who are a major part of the conclusion of the book.

In this standalone book we get to see how Jack and Jill became the people they were by the time they entered Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, the home where children who found doorways to alternate universes are helped to recover.

Born to a couple more interested in the social benefits of parenthood than actually being parents, Jack and Jill begin to take on their unique gender identities at an early age. One day, wanting to play costume make believe, they go up to the attic and find that the costume trunk is empty except for a door leading to a deep stairway. Down those stairs is a world ruled by the Master where vampires are the ruling citizens. Jack and Jill take on unique roles in this world. But before they turn 18 they must make a decision whether or not to become permanent residents.

McGuire invented dozens of unusual worlds in her last book. In this story she creates a dark and frightening world. As in the past, she doesn't shrink from the death of characters whether you like them or not, nor from Jack's sexual ambiguity. What is also as strong here as in the first book is the devotion Jack has for Jill.

This is a perfect follow up to Every Heart a Doorway, a book that started like a pleasant children's book and ended up gothic, macabre, and murderous. It will be interesting to see what other twists and turns will come in future books. While it would be a good read for most older teens it's a book that would be enjoyable for any adult lover of gothic fantasy.

5 people found this helpful

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Love this series!

Love getting the full story of Jack and Jill's life in their world . Beautifully written and performed. Original and entertaining. Not a children's book, but teenagers and adults will enjoy this series.

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Haunting

"Every Heart a Doorway" left me wanting more stories about the Wayward Children, so I was happy to find this sequel.
What makes this story stand out is the message that children should be allowed to choose who they want to be, and the dire consequences that come from controlling instead of guiding them.
McGuire's prose is gorgeous; she writes even grotesque things with beautiful detail.
Even though I know how things went for Jack and Jill in "Every Heart", this book, set in a Hammer Horror world, made their back story compelling.

2 people found this helpful

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Wait... that's it?

This is a prequel to the book Every Heart a Doorway, and it's possible that book "spoiled" this one for me. It's the back story of a character I liked a lot: Jack and her sister, Jill, so I expected to learn a great deal more about the pair, get richer, deeper look at their personalities and motivations. I also expected to see a fair bit of worldbuilding where the moor was concerned. Sadly, there wasn't really anything new at all. Maybe it's just that the first book was too well written.

This might be an okay book if you haven't read Doorway. And if you love Jack and can't get enough of her, well, she's in this one. But even her rather fascinating character is just barely sketched in, here. Jill is even more of a non-entity, and if you're hoping for some adventures on the mysterious moor... there are exactly none. As someone who had really looked forward to this book, I found it disappointing.

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hmm

I was really hoping that it was going to include what happened after they returned back to the Moors. it was a good story but felt more like a prequel than a stand-alone story. Is it because the author wants to sale more books by dicing the story up?? I don't know. I just felt like it was half finished

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Gorgeous Writing but a little too thin

the prose is top knotch, but it was just a bit too short, could have supported maybe a few more plot lines to flesh it out

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Absolutely Incredible!

I was not a fan of Jack and Jill from Every Heart A Doorway, so I left Down Among The Sticks and Bones for quite a while before picking it up. You know a book is good if it makes you like characters that you’ve previously disliked. This book follows Jack and Jill from the idea of conception through pregnancy, birth, childhood, until they find their door at twelve. They both felt a bit childish at twelve to me, for instance Jill didn’t know the difference between Master and Doctor. Though my knowledge of those sorts of titles at that age probably came from watching Doctor Who. The story continues in their world as the two girls split apart, one becoming the Master’s Daughter and one becoming the Doctor’s Apprentice. There were quite a few time slips during their time in the other world, but it didn’t impact the flow of the book. I really like how this book deals with themes such as sexuality, with the first book in the series having a character who identifies as asexual, another who identifies as transgender and one in this book who has a relationship with another character of the same gender. I just love how this is becoming mainstream and this series handled these topics so well. It also deals with topics such as childcare, as Jack and Jill’s parents foist the girls off on their grandmother and then tell them that she forgot how to love them when the grandmother is forced to leave. All in all, it really makes you feel for both Jack and Jill by the end, and their thoughts and actions in Every Heart A Doorway are a lot more understandable now.

1 person found this helpful

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An excellent sequel or standalone read!

Seanan McGuire does it again and to be honest, I like this even better than the first book. It focuses on Jack and Jill, and what their lives were like before their time on the Moors, as well as what happened when they went through their doorway. Featuring the best positive representation of OCD in literature I've ever seen, and very sweet romance between Jack and a girl from the Moors. I love listening to this over and over. A must-read for anyone who enjoyed the first book, or who enjoys McGuire's writing in general. “AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY”

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vamp or doc?

I wonder would they ever come to there world to come get the girls back. I know Jill has some psychology issue now.

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  • Katie Stewart
  • 06-22-17

just as good, if not better than the first.

The narrator does a great job narrating her own book. The story is whimsical and beautiful. It takes a well needed breath of fresh air to the genre, and kept me captivated the whole way through. My only fault, would be I wanted more, maybe even an epilogue. I eagerly anticipate the next in the series.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-26-20

reread and still great

love this book so much. the only reason it gets 4 stars is because I dont really care for jill and she was pretty focused on in this book. also this feels like kind of the beginning of a story. but its just great. I def prefer the narrator in the first book tho

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  • NL
  • 03-10-18

My only conclusion: was I wrong about this book!

This wasn’t a story I thought I would enjoy or a series I thought I would continue but I was proved wrong. I think the best thing about this book for me was how Seanan narrated it. I was intrigued and wanted more!

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 06-26-17

There has to be a sequel!

Seanan McGuire consistently writes stories that I enjoy. This is a very good example, about people whose childhood was unhappy enough to help to lead them into trouble. I could not be indifferent to the characters in this story. Highly recommended!

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  • Melissa Carter
  • 06-20-18

Backstory

It was great to be able to learn the back story for Jack and Jill. I would have loved to stay a bit longer and hear about some of the tasks Jack had to carry out though