September 18, 2022

Seanan McGuire: "Where the Drowned Girls Go"

Title: Where the Drowned Girls Go [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Wayward Children (7th of 10? 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: 2022
Age: 14+
Stars: 5/5
Pros: An imaginative look-in-reverse at one of the most common fantasy tropes. Packs a huge punch for so short a book. Has a few surprises in store. Lets all its characters shine.
Cons: Leaves you thirsty for all the worlds that are barely mentioned/touched upon...
WARNING! Bullying by way of fat-shaming. Mention of a suicide attempt by drowning.
Will appeal to: People who love flawed, complex teen heroes and coming of age stories of a peculiar kind. Everyone who's ever felt out of place, but doesn't necessary dream of a happier world than the one they live in...

Blurb: There is another school for children who fall through doors and fall back out again. It isn't as friendly as Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children. And it isn't as safe.
When Eleanor West decided to open her school, her sanctuary, her "Home for Wayward Children", she knew from the beginning that there would be children she couldn’t save; when Cora decides she needs a different direction, a different fate, a different prophecy, Miss West reluctantly agrees to transfer her to the other school, where things are run very differently by Whitethorn, the Headmaster.
She will soon discover that not all doors are welcoming... 
(Amazon excerpt)

Review: A few months ago, I decided I wouldn't write any more full reviews for certain types of books, including novellas. But since I've been reviewing this series in full from the start, I'm making an exception here, and I intend to go on doing so for all its future installments. So, I'll keep writing a mini review after my first read, and a full one after my second. Also...this is my first 5-star rating for a Wayward Children book!

MY MERMAID FRIEND

Something about Cora stole my heart since her first apparition in Beneath the Sugar Sky, and it's funny how we don't have anything in common (apart from being/having been bullies' targets in different ways), but I love her more than any other Wayward Child I've met so far. Or maybe it isn't funny, because what's not to love about a fat girl with a mermaid's heart, who gets bullied for her size and tries to disappear but finds her door instead, ultimately takes matters into her own hands, and becomes a hero? a flawed one, but one who recognises her flaws and does her best to overcome them? not to mention, one with blue-green hair and iridescent skin? Everything about Cora and her arc feels so true and real, that you could swear resourceful, brave, fat mermaids are a thing and you will meet one (or more) one day, and how come you haven't yet? [...]

SCHOOL OF HORROR

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. You see, Where the Drowned Girls Go is a lot more than Cora's story. It opens with her requiring a transfer to an anti-magic school out of desperation, because she can't think of a better way to break the hold the Drowned Gods from the Moors have on her (see Come Tumbling Down). Except the Whitethorn Institute is anything but friendly - more like a prison and a rehab facility and a conversion camp rolled into one - and has its own agenda, something that could change the portal universe's fate once and for all. Also, despite the school's best efforts, the doors exist, and it's not like anyone who's travelled through one can ever forget that - even if some wish they could, because hell, a few of those doors HURT (to be honest, all of them do, one way or another, but some can be cruel and unforgiving, as Kade and a couple of the new characters here can testify). Still, despite the school staff's best efforts, they're not going to become less real, nor are the kids going to fit into a different mold just because you forge it out of iron. Which is a lesson worth repeating, especially in this time and age... 

SIZE ISN'T EVERYTHING

So, without spoiling anything...teens will set to overcome patriarchy and to unmask adults' hypocrisy in the process, but before it can happen, everybody will have to decide where their loyalties lie. And not all the adults are lost causes, and the doors can open for them too! And this was SO MUCH FUN to read. I mean, there's a lot of horror, sadness and wrongness packed in this novella, but the story's fully realised despite its short size, with a strong message, a bunch of characters who leap off the page (even those who don't have a name...for interesting reasons) and a number of surprises (one of them particularly delightful and fitting like a glove, so much that the story wouldn't have been the same without it, and yet I didn't expect it all). And hope, always hope. Even if a certain fight has barely started, courtesy of the Whitethorn Institute - and this is such an exciting premise for the installments to come...

For quotes from this book 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) 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) click here.
For my "Come Tumbling Down" review (fifth installment in the series) click here.
For my "Across the Green Grass Fields" review (sixth installment in the series) click here.
For more Supernatural books click here.

8 comments:

  1. I love when I find a novella that is just as good as a full size book and this sounds like it was.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Leaves you thirsty for all the worlds that are barely mentioned/ touched upon" YES. I love alternate worlds so much, the sense of what if. Like, what kind of worlds can our imaginations come up with? That's probably one of the reasons I'm drawn to fantasy so much. :) Anyways I love this premise. The idea of these kids finding (hopefully) the right door for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I love alternate worlds so much, the sense of what if."
      That's one of my favourite tropes as well (though I tend not to like fantasy per se - I'm more of a sci-fi/multiverse gal who dabbles into fantasy if it isn't of the epic/historical kind). And really...you should try this series, before it gets 20 book long 😂.

      Delete
    2. I really should. I've read just enough Mira grant/ Seanan McGuire to be dangerous. :) But not this series. Concept wise it's probably more up my alley than her other stuff (other than those killer mermaids- I HAD to read those!!!)

      Delete
  3. Fun horror -- an interesting combination, and YEAH for five-star reads.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I might have a peculiar notion of "fun" 😂.

      Delete

Welcome to Offbeat YA! I love hearing from you and always - I mean always - acknowledge your comments. This used to be a full democracy place, because anyone could comment, regardless of being a registered member of any community. Unfortunately, I had to turn off the Anonymous comment option, because I was getting too much spam that didn't get filtered. So, you’ll need to have a Google account (Gmail will suffice) in order to comment. Sorry about that. Anyway, jump right in! Come on, you know you want to...😉 And be sure to leave a link!
BTW...I don't care if a post is a million months old - you comment, I respond. And you make my day 😃.
Note: this is an award/tag free blog. Sorry I can't accept nominations due to lack of time.

As per the GDPR guidelines, here's the link to my Privacy Policy.