Have you ever looked for a door to another world? I still find myself trying to find a doorway in almost every apartment I live in. In fact, there’s a tiny door in my reading nook that I immediately opened when I moved in. Sadly, it’s just a door to the HVAC system. However, if you’ve ever been curious about those doors or always wanted to find one for yourself, then I think you might really enjoy this book.
TW: child death, blood, missing body parts, and acid dissolving.
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.
I had only read one other book from the Wayward Children series and it was a bit later. It was a cute story, but I didn’t like it all that much. However, after reading this story (the first in the series), I kind of want to go back and reread it with the context in mind about this entire series.
I could gush about this book for forever. It was funny and dark and sweet and filled with magical ideas and gruesome endings. It was everything I really love about a good fantasy story; a little magic, a little dark, and extremely beautiful. I’m also surprised with how little book there is and how much story was told. I love it when a short book packs a punch!
While the book follows one character, Nancy, you also get an idea of the other characters that live in the Home for Wayward Children. I loved each student on their own because of their different personalities, experiences, and sadness. Because there’s definitely a lot of sadness in this book, especially since the kids have all been abandoned by their parents to try and re-acclimate to life after their travels. The one thing that each of these students have in common is that and their want to return to the worlds they visited.
Also, it was interesting to see how Seanan McGuire incorporates gender identity and sexual identity conversations into the story. I remember the other book I read also included it, but I didn’t realize it was a running theme in the books. It was really awesome to see the inclusion in this one as well!
The worlds themselves were also intriguing. Some were filled with dark and scary things and others were filled with silly and beautiful things, but the beautiful part is that each world is there for each of the kids. If the kid was living a strict life of rules and boredom, they may be sent to a world filled with no rules and you never get bored. I loved that the worlds were so specific to the kid and filled the massive holes they had in their hearts.
You also end up rooting for a lot of them hoping that they do get their happy ending and return to the worlds that they came from. But things start to get real when students start to die. The mystery component of the story was probably the least favorite part, but didn’t take away from the rest of the book. I was so intrigued by the students, their stories, and wanted to see if they were able to get back to the worlds they came from. Honestly, I had such sadness for the ones who wouldn’t make it back.
Definitely not a book for the faint-hearted, especially since there’s a few children dying and there’s some processes taking place that were a little out of a horror movie. They don’t bother me, so I wasn’t grossed out by it, but I can also see how these things can upset you if you’re not into it.
Overall, fantastic story that really reignited my imagination and made me dream big of a world beyond the walls. I’ll definitely be checking out more from this series.