December 16, 2022

Seanan McGuire: "Skeleton Song"

Title: Skeleton Song [on Amazonon Goodreads]
Series: Wayward Children (Note: This is a prequel short story about Christopher, and you can read it for free here. Since it's the first WC origin story the author has released, I marked it as book 0.1 in the series, though on Goodreads it's listed as 7.7...)
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: 4/5
Pros: An imaginative look-in-reverse at one of the most common fantasy tropes. Fills us in about Christopher's encounter with the Skeleton Girl and the reason why he didn't get to stay with her.     
Cons: Requires more suspension of disbelief than some of the other worlds.
WARNING! Death, skeletons (duh), flesh-stripping (off page).
Will appeal to: Fans of the Wayward Children series...past and future 😉.

Blurb: Children have always disappeared under the right conditions - slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere...else. Adventures are always interesting, but they’re not always happy. From the worlds of Wayward Children comes a story of love, of devotion, of bones wrapped in flesh.(Goodreads)

Review: You may ask - what's the point in reviewing a short story that also happens to be a free read? It's not like one has to decide if it's worth one's money or not (unless you do want to buy the ebook for your collection). But since I'm reviewing the whole series, it just didn't seem right to leave this one out...

A horror meet-cute like only McGuire can do 😂. Alas, poor Christopher didn't get his own novella, but the author finally decided to put some flesh (pun intended) on the bare bones of his origin story (and his flute's). So we get to see how he entered Mariposa, the Skeleton Girl's kingdom (though not how he found his door), and how he lost his place in it.
I have to admit that I used to perceive Christopher more as a side character in the other Wayward Children's stories than a (future) protagonist. Until I read this short story, I had never really stopped to think that he could (or should) get his own book one day, also because 
I had filed his romance with a literal skeleton under "weird shit happens - no need to dwell on it" (not to mention, I had never spared a thought for the equal weirdness of a literal skeleton loving him back - more of that in a minute). Now, Mariposa may not be my favourite alternate universe (just like Christopher isn't my favourite Wayward Child), but there's a lot to love in it. For a realm of dead skeleton people, it's surprisingly poetic and colourful (giving off loose Día de los Muertos vibes). The world-building is well-thought-out and does make sense, down to the business of starting a family without having an actual body. And I got a slap in the face when I realised that in a world of people made of bones, a person who walks in flesh is the real abomination...and yet, as usual, love can - and will - overcome the differences. So, who's to say that Christopher is the weird one because he fell in love with a skeleton girl? That's how you turn a potentially bizarre narrative into a lesson in prejudice...

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, outtake from "In an Absent Dream") 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 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. Sounds cool! I love horror short stories.

  2. I have a copy of this (from Tor) but ugh I haven't read it yet! I liked Christopher's story so I think I'll enjoy it.

    1. Yep, this time they made a few physical copies...lucky you LOL.

  3. I personally love to review a book I liked - free, library, short, whatever. I think it's great you got to know this character better and that McGuire was able to change your opinion of him

    1. Spreading the love is always a good thing 🙂. And yep, McGuire managed to surprise me...once more.

  4. I was just reading another Wayward review somewhere and I know you're a fan and I was like... why aren't I reading these? Maybe I'll start em in the new year. Plus I love portal fantasy anyways...

    1. Ha! Why, indeed? Joking LOL. I hope you decide to try them though (but maybe read at least the first couple of books before you make up your mind about the series. Personally, I liked the first less than the second...).

    2. That's good to know. The nice thing is there are so many books now that if I DO like them I can happily binge. I liked her Cryptids book (the first one) but didn't love it enough to run out and read the rest.

    3. "The nice thing is there are so many books now that if I DO like them I can happily binge."
      Haha, right? On the other hand, they're all under 200 pages, so you can pretty much devour one of them in a day or two...

      The InCryptid series is really varied, with each book/couple of books or so featuring one of the siblings as a protagonist, and even their "cousin" Sarah. My favourite book so far (I've read 6) is n°5, Chaos Choreography - but if you prefer male characters, Book 3 and 4 are from Alex's POV...

  5. This sounds pretty good. I would probably like this one.

    1. And it's both short and free! You can go forth and try it 😉.


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