April 28, 2023
When we were young, who among us didn’t occasionally dream of finding ourselves in one of the fanciful worlds we read about? Exploring Narnia, getting lost in Wonderland, walking the Yellow Brick Road of Oz… Of course, these journeys took place only in our imagination. But what if we really did travel to a “fairy tale-like” world?
That is the experience of the students who attend Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. These novellas recount the stories of children, many of whom felt they never fit the “real” world, who find a doorway to another land. Stepping through, they experience fantastic life-changing adventures. And some find a place where they finally belong. Then suddenly they are thrown back into the world of the mundane and returned to families who no longer understand them, if they ever did.
This is where the Home for Wayward Children comes in. It’s a place where frustrated and confused parents can take their formerly missing offspring to try and get them back to “normal.” Or at least back to the way they were before they disappeared. And, of course, they want their child to stop making up stories about unicorns and mermaids.
But Eleanor West, herself a child who became “lost,” knows what these children have experienced and how difficult it is to return to normality. Especially when you find yourself feeling more at home in another realm. How do you explain to your parents that all you want to do is go back to the Hall of the Dead and be a statue? Or return to your girlfriend in the world of The Moors—a place where a vampire and mad scientist maintain a delicate balance of power. A country of bones, a goblin market, a world made of sweets—all are places where outcast children find acceptance. And now they are back to being the odd one in the room.
The Wayward Children series is a wonderful exploration of identity and how difficult it is when you aren’t who the world wants you to be. Like Jack and Jill, whose parents forced them to take on predetermined roles—Jack is supposed to be a princess and Jill a tomboy. But Jack like machines and Jill loves fashion.
This series is very relatable for those who feel they were born in the wrong place, always the outsider. How devastating would it be to find a comfortable home for the first time in your life only to lose it? Who wouldn’t do anything to find that doorway again?
If you love different takes on fairy tales, this is a great series with some wonderful illustrations that help bring these worlds to life. So, take a step through Seanan McGuire’s magical doorways… you never know what kind of fantastical place you might find!
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