Come Tumbling Down (The Wayward Children book 5) by Seanan McGuire (book review).

Most readers will be familiar with Lewis Carroll’s 1885 novel relating ‘The Adventures Of Alice In Wonderland’, where a child falls down a rabbit hole into a magical world. It is a trope that has been used by many other authors but is one that Seanan McGuire has taken to another level.

This is the fifth book in the ‘Wayward Children’ series. The first book in the series, ‘Every Heart A Doorway’, is a multi-award winning novella and introduces the concept that for some people there is another world that is better suited to their natures than the one they were born into. They find doors into the surreal worlds that best suit their natures. When they return no-one believes their tales, except Eleanor West. She has set up a school that is a refuge for these children.

In ‘Come Tumbling Down’, we meet again some of the characters from previous books. Christopher, whose world is one of skeletons, has a room in the basement. It used to belong to Jack (short for Jaqueline) Wolcott. He is surprised when lightning starts to flash from his ceiling and a door forms. Through it comes a strange woman carrying one of the Wolcott twins. Last time that door opened, Jack went through it carrying her dead sister, Jill. The world beyond the door, the Moors, is bleak but because of the lightning, the dead can be resurrected. The problem is that Jill has swapped bodies with Jack.

The two sisters are very different. Jack prefers science and has a phobia about germs. Jill is much more feminine and she wants to become a vampire and help rule the Moors. Anybody that has been resurrected cannot become a vampire. Jack wants her own body back, not just because she is unhappy in Jill’s but because if Jill becomes a vampire, it will upset the balance of the world. A group of the Wayward Children go back with Jack to try to resolve the situation.

Although being part way through the series, there is enough here for it not to matter and will probably make the reader want to find the books in the series. Outwardly, it is a YA novella but will be enjoyed by all ages and could be the kind of book that would engage reluctant readers. I could also see the likes of Tim Burton creating a film of it.

Pauline Morgan

February 2022

(pub: TOR/Forge. 206 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $19.99 (US), $26.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-9931-1)

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