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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 newfound schoolmates to get to the heart of things. No matter the cost.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By tm on 07-12-16
You always hope with books, that as you open them they will spread wider than the breadth of their pages and swallow you whole, allowing you to live an abbreviated other life without reservation. This is such a book. The reader seemed strange to me at first but then perfect as she unfolded the story around me like a grown up sized blanket fort. The plot was so novel. So believable a consequence to every childhood fantasy of travel to other worlds. I can give it only the best accolade I am able, that as I listened to it my own world fell away. Artfully written and read.
26 of 26 people found this review helpful
By Elisabeth Carey on 05-04-16
Truly a fairy tale for our time
Nancy is the newest arrival at Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children--in reality, children like Nancy, who have experienced unreality in the form of fantasy-like alternate worlds. They stumbled through doorways that shouldn't have been there, and found themselves in worlds where they felt more at home than they ever had in their "real" homes.
Nancy spent time in the Halls of the Dead, learning stillness, silence, and patience. Nancy's roommate, Sumi, spent time in a "high nonsense" world and is in love with a Candy Corn farmer who is now, she assumes, lost to her. Kade sojourned in Faerie, and was thrown out when they realized he was only biologically female; Kade is a transgender boy. Jack (Jacqueline) and Jill (Jillian) are identical twins who spent time in a horror movie come to life, where Jill fell in love with a vampire and Jack trained to be a Mad Scientist. They all hope to get home again, and they all know their chances are really, really low. But at least they're among people who understand, people they can trust.
Until students start dying. Sumi is killed and her very talented hands are stolen. A girl whose gift is her exceptional eyes is killed and her eyes taken out--very carefully.
Nancy is the new girl, and her roommate was the first killed. Jack is a Mad Scientist. Christopher carries a bone flute with him, and talks about bones dancing. Tension and suspicion rise rapidly, and Miss West and all her students are afraid that authorities will find out and close down the school. They have to find the killer themselves, before they can't hide what's happening anymore.
This is a beautifully well-done story, with very subtle and persuasive character development. It's scary the extent to which I recognize these kids. I swear, I grew up with some of them. They are very much real teenagers, of the kind who don't fit in. Their not fitting in is less the result of their time in imaginary lands, than the cause of it.
It's just a wonderfully compelling story. Recommended.
I bought this book.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Dix on 06-11-16
Unusual absorbing story
This is teen fiction, and although I quite like teen fiction and Seanan McGuire (I also like her Mira Grant writing) I had this in my library for ages before reading it - I kept thinking, it just didn't sound interesting enough, it sounded a bit TOO 'teen', but then I was stuck with nothing to listen to, and thought "well it's quite short, so it will do for a train journey" ...
It was great! I loved the characters (Nancy, Kane, Jack, Charlie, Yumi); I absolutely loved the whole idea of it, 'human' teenagers who had found their place in alternate story worlds, and who were now lost because their doors were closed coming together in a strange school. And their worlds .... wow, what an amazing imagination McGuire has. I love her ideas; her worlds; her lovely vision. This was short, and very sweet, and a little sad, and just lovely. It is also a murder mystery as well as a strange fantasy novel for teens. Very satisfying.
The narrator's voice was great for the book, and she paced it very well. The different characters came across well. Id listen to her reading me a story again.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By anon8404 on 08-18-17
Stunning, Magical, Creepy
A twisted, magical tale of children fron other worlds. Very enjoyable, even the gruesome parts!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Melissa Carter on 06-17-18
The narrator does a fantastic job with this book. I highly recommend checking it out.
By Anonymous User on 06-25-17
Beautiful but fell flat.
The concept was fascinating and I was hooked from the first chapter. Unfortunately I found the plot in the second half rushed, as if the author had a word limit and needed to get all the mystery out in a few pages. The clumsy pacing destroyed all it had built up in the first section of the book: character development, relationships, intrigue. Overall I found the most of the book disappointing. I wish the author spent more time exploring the possibilities the books concept opened up.
Futher, without taking the time to tease out the topics of gender and sexuality, certain character traits felt forced. It was as if the author threw them in there because they wanted to make a statement, but couldn't be bothered to write anything meaningful.