The Wayward Children series is a series consisting of one main book, and several spinoff books, some prequels and some sequels, most involving subsets of the characters introduced in Every Heart a Doorway. There are currently three books total in the series. Two more are expected to be published in 2019 and 2020.
Every Heart a Doorway
I thoroughly enjoyed this first book in the series. The concept itself is fascinating. Leaping off from the concepts of Wonderland and Narnia, McGuire uses this first book to ask a very important question: What happens to the children who find their ways into magical lands… once they return to our world?
Nancy is one of those children. She has been struggling with normal life after returning from a world called The Halls of the Dead. Her parents, in an effort to help her adjust, send her to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. When Nancy arrives she learns that the Home is actually s place for children just like her, who have traveled to alternate worlds and are struggling to reintegrate into society. Nancy learns that every world is different, varying by cardinal system of Logic vs Nonsense and Virtue vs Wicked.
Then, just as Nancy is settling in, tragedy strikes the Home. Nancy and her new friends must use all of the skills they learned in their worlds to get to the bottom of who is behind a brutal murder before the Home is closed down and they are forced back into the harsh reality of life with their families that they came to the Home to escape.
This book is also extremely diverse on the LGBTQ spectrum, including characters who are trans, gender non-conforming, and asexual. The characters are also racially diverse, which is alas still too rare in the literary world.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Jacqueline and Jillian, twin sisters, were raised to be very specific things for their mother and father. Forced into randomly chosen roles before they were old enough to make decisions for themselves, they were kept to strict schedules. Then Jacquieline and Jillian disappeared for five years.
The Moors was a harsh land, but it was a land Jacqueline and Jillian were built for. Their experiences there will change them drastically.
This prequel tells the story of Jack and Jill’s early lives and their time in the world their doorway let them to. It’s great at filling in the gaps of how Jack and Jill became who they were by the time of Every Heart a Doorway. It’s also a fascinating study of how someone’s childhood can impact their entire life.
Beneath the Sugar Sky
After the events of Every Heart a Doorway, life at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children has finally settled back to almost normal. But life is disturbed when a naked girl falls from the sky and right into the turtle pond on the school grounds.
The girl, Rini, is from another world, and she is disappearing. Her mother was a student at the school before returning to her world, getting married, and having Rini. At least, that’s what was supposed to happen.
But something has gone wrong. Sumi died young and now Rini needs help bringing her back to life before Rini herself disappears forever.
This sequel is great. It’s part Alice in Wonderland, part Back to the Future. A combination that makes for a great adventure for the students of Eleanor West’s school. In order to bring Sumi back to life they must combine all of their skills to collect the pieces of Sumi that dispersed after death. Her skeleton, her ghost, and her heart are all in different worlds. As the students travel from world to world they learn more about the nature of the multi-world universe they inhabit, as well as learning more about themselves.
Find this series on: Goodreads
For those looking for a more detailed description of the mythology of these books, including descriptions of all the known worlds in the series (up to Nov 2017), I highly recommend this article, which I used as a resource for this review.