September 24, 2020

Seanan McGuire: "Come Tumbling Down"

Title: Come Tumbling Down [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Wayward Children (5th of ?? books)
Author: Seanan McGuire [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural (technically it would be Portal Fantasy, but since I don't have a Fantasy Room on the blog, I decided to shelf this one as Supernatural - that's the closest I could get)
Year: 2020
Age: 14+
Stars: 4/5
Pros: An imaginative look-in-reverse at one of the most common fantasy tropes. Puts a neurodivergent queer character front and center. The POV switch is masterfully done.
Cons: Quite dark. Some characters get less screen time than  others.
WARNING! A pretty graphic corpse depiction.
Will appeal to: Everyone who's ever felt out of place, but doesn't necessary dream of a happier world than the one they live in...

Blurb: When Jack left Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister - whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice - back to their home on the Moors. But death in their adopted world isn't always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: Each installment of his series never fails to take a different turn, not even when we visit one of the same worlds as before. This time, Jack and Jill are joined by their former schoolmates (which makes for a change of style, since every one of them gets a POV), and we get to explore the Moors' mythology even further. Never a dull moment 😉.


You know how, usually, the first thing that strikes you about a book is either the plot or the characters or the world-building, or well, the writing, but from a purely aesthetic angle? If I have to pick the aspect of CTD that stands out the most for me, it's the constant, apparently effortless POV change. For the second time (since Beneath the Sugar Sky) a group of Wayward Children are on a quest in the world where one...well, technically, two of them belong, except that this time every one of them takes a turn in telling the story. And it's not a matter of chapters - it happens seamlessly every few paragraphs/lines. Though not all the kids get the same amount of screen time (it only makes sense that Jack is given the lion's share, but Sumi is a close second, probably because her apparently air-headed attitude and chipper demeanor help balancing out the dark narrative), we get a rotating glimpse of everyone's thoughts and feelings, and it never feels forced or scattered. Seriously, if you have ever read a book in third person where you felt disconnected from a single character in whose head you were the whole time, you know how rare and precious it is. [...]


McGuire excel at taking characters who, for all purposes, would be regarded as damaged in any other context, and granting them dignity - and even a greatness of sorts. Even when the line between hero and monster stretches thin, she makes sure they deserve our sympathy and understanding. Also, despite CTD being a novella that clocks at less than two hundred pages, and with the destiny of a group of adventurers - and of a whole world - at stake, she manages to address ableism, dysphoria and OCD. Of course, the kids make for a mixed bunch, and they don't always get along/understand one another - since they belong to different worlds - which is especially noticeable with Jack and Cora...but one thing is true: they're never purposefully mean, and if they can't help being judgy (mainly Jack), they do try to be fair as well. And each and every one of them is human (well, except Jill, I guess 😂) - only not in your conventional way...


I do have a couple of small quibbles about this one, though they didn't impact my enjoyment that much. For one, there were moments when I barely recognised the Cora I had loved so much in Beneath the Sugar Sky, though it's not like she acts out of character here - more like her bitter side is brought to the surface, while her heroism and empathy take the backseat (but then again, I understand that Jack and her world are a bit much to endure 😂). Also, while the kids are on a quest to help Jack, and each one of them is supposed to play a part in it, things don't exactly work that way: while Christopher and Cora are indeed instrumental to the task at hand (though, in her case, in a passive role), Sumi mostly provides the humorous/philosophic commentary (albeit she does end up taking part in the fight), and Kade spends most of his time in need of saving. But as usual, in the bigger scheme of things, the Wayward Children series keeps providing the kind of dark/funny/philosophical entertainment and quirky-yet-human characters that make these books worth reading and rereading. It's no small accomplishment for a bunch of slim novellas 🙂.

For quotes from this book click here.
For my "Skeleton Song" review (prequel short story) click here.
For my "Every Heart a Doorway" review (first installment in the series) click here.

For my "Down Among the Sticks and Bones" review (second installment in the series) click here.
For my "In Mercy, Rain" review (companion short story, following "Down Among the Sticks and Bones") click here.

For my "Beneath the Sugar Sky" review (third installment in the series) click here.
For my "In an Absent Dream" review (fourth installment in the series) click here.
For my "Juice Like Wounds" review (companion short story, outtake from "In an Absent Dream") click here.
For my "Across the Green Grass Fields" review (sixth installment in the series) click here.

For my "Where the Drowned Girls Go" review (seventh installment in the series) click here.
For my "Lost in the Moment and Found" review (eighth installment in the series) click here.
For my "Mislaid in Parts Half Known" review (ninth installment in the series) click here.
For more Supernatural books click here.


  1. I do like this series! Though for me this was my least favorite.I think it was audio I tried atfirst

    1. Well, it's darker than the other installments - not everyone's cup of tea. My least favourite was Every Heart a Doorway, because of the whole murder subplot (so to speak) and a certain lack of answers (that I got later though!).

  2. I have heard great things from this series, but wasn't sure if it was for me. But I noticed you said that this book addresses some tougher topics and that definitely seems appealing to me. I'm always looking for new series to get into.

    1. If you don't mind a series that can get dark at times, I can definitely recommend this one! It doesn't hurt that all the installments are around 200 pages long - I've read one in a day at times.

  3. I think it's so impressive that the author has been able to keep this series so fresh over the course of so many books.

    1. Maybe the fact that they're novellas has helped - but yep, you're right!

  4. I recently read Beartown by Fredrik Backman and I actually marvelled at the smooth and easy POV change in that one as well! I love that you picked up on it in this book. She addresses so many different themes and situations here and I love that! A shame about a character being a bit unrecognisable to you though. I love seeing how much you adore this series ^.^

    1. I'll have to put Beartown on my radar!

      LOL, thank you - McGuire is one of my favourite authors...did you guess? 😉

  5. I haven't read this but I have read a couple of her books and liked them.

  6. I'm glad you've enjoyed yet another book in this series! That's great that the shifting POVs worked so well here. It sounds like this author is really good with the writing and the characters!

    1. Now I'm on a crusade to convince everyone I know to try at least one of her books, because she IS. Her Middlegame and Ghost Roads series are FABULOUS. She never fails to make you care for her characters!


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