Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children
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. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.
Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced...they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her newfound schoolmates to get to the heart of things. No matter the cost.
©2016 Seanan McGuire (P)2016 Macmillan Audio
"Seanan McGuire has long been one of the smartest writers around, and with this novella we can easily see that her heart is as big as her brain. We know this story isn't true, but it is truth." [Charlaine Harris, New York Times best-selling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series (TV's True Blood)]
This is teen fiction, and although I quite like teen fiction and Seanan McGuire (I also like her Mira Grant writing) I had this in my library for ages before reading it - I kept thinking, it just didn't sound interesting enough, it sounded a bit TOO 'teen', but then I was stuck with nothing to listen to, and thought "well it's quite short, so it will do for a train journey" ...
It was great! I loved the characters (Nancy, Kane, Jack, Charlie, Yumi); I absolutely loved the whole idea of it, 'human' teenagers who had found their place in alternate story worlds, and who were now lost because their doors were closed coming together in a strange school. And their worlds .... wow, what an amazing imagination McGuire has. I love her ideas; her worlds; her lovely vision. This was short, and very sweet, and a little sad, and just lovely. It is also a murder mystery as well as a strange fantasy novel for teens. Very satisfying.
The narrator's voice was great for the book, and she paced it very well. The different characters came across well. Id listen to her reading me a story again.
I bought this on a real whim as I like Seanan McGuire, but I really had no idea what to expect. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. The story is unusual and quirky which I loved, and the characters - apart from Nancy who was really irritating - were well written and funny. It wasn't hard to work out what was going on and who was responsible, but that was fine as it was still enjoyable. Really glad I took a chance on this.
The narrator was fine and easy to understand, but what stood out was the beautiful story and the effective writing style. I love this author and this book was so good - I listened to it all in one go. Plus the asexual protagonist and transboy main character helped a lot; good representation is always appreciated, and this was really good.
You always hope with books, that as you open them they will spread wider than the breadth of their pages and swallow you whole, allowing you to live an abbreviated other life without reservation. This is such a book. The reader seemed strange to me at first but then perfect as she unfolded the story around me like a grown up sized blanket fort. The plot was so novel. So believable a consequence to every childhood fantasy of travel to other worlds. I can give it only the best accolade I am able, that as I listened to it my own world fell away. Artfully written and read.
"Truly a fairy tale for our time"
Nancy is the newest arrival at Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children--in reality, children like Nancy, who have experienced unreality in the form of fantasy-like alternate worlds. They stumbled through doorways that shouldn't have been there, and found themselves in worlds where they felt more at home than they ever had in their "real" homes.
Nancy spent time in the Halls of the Dead, learning stillness, silence, and patience. Nancy's roommate, Sumi, spent time in a "high nonsense" world and is in love with a Candy Corn farmer who is now, she assumes, lost to her. Kade sojourned in Faerie, and was thrown out when they realized he was only biologically female; Kade is a transgender boy. Jack (Jacqueline) and Jill (Jillian) are identical twins who spent time in a horror movie come to life, where Jill fell in love with a vampire and Jack trained to be a Mad Scientist. They all hope to get home again, and they all know their chances are really, really low. But at least they're among people who understand, people they can trust.
Until students start dying. Sumi is killed and her very talented hands are stolen. A girl whose gift is her exceptional eyes is killed and her eyes taken out--very carefully.
Nancy is the new girl, and her roommate was the first killed. Jack is a Mad Scientist. Christopher carries a bone flute with him, and talks about bones dancing. Tension and suspicion rise rapidly, and Miss West and all her students are afraid that authorities will find out and close down the school. They have to find the killer themselves, before they can't hide what's happening anymore.
This is a beautifully well-done story, with very subtle and persuasive character development. It's scary the extent to which I recognize these kids. I swear, I grew up with some of them. They are very much real teenagers, of the kind who don't fit in. Their not fitting in is less the result of their time in imaginary lands, than the cause of it.
It's just a wonderfully compelling story. Recommended.
I bought this book.
"The Memories of Worlds Gone By"
The children entered their fantasy worlds in different ways. Some left earth through an old trunk with a hidden staircase. Others walked through mirrors or special doors. Nancy slipped into an underworld by crawling through a space between two roots of a tree.
But all of them were sent back to the earth before they became adults, and a home for wayward children is where they meet and share of their fantasy world memories, always with the hopes of one day going back.
This novel has a very original storyline, but was a little too short to execute the story to it's fullest potential.
I love the voice of Cynthia Hopkins. With the slowness of a near- southern drawl, she pulls the reader in with her character consistent narration and timeless vocal quality.
I am hoping this is the first in a series.
Very well done.
"It will stick with you"
I have read/listened to more of Seanan McGuire, since I originally found this story and I now know that the worldbuilding, the transfixing general concept, is a bit of a hallmark of the author.
Because to be perfectly honest it wasn't the "story" that kept me listening transfixed, it was the characters - and the individual world each held within them. And just that concept itself, that heartbreaking concept, of children pulled into magical worlds - worlds where they finally finally fit - and then years later being tossed back out and floundering for their footing again. Wanting desperately to get back. And not being able to.
Get this. Seriously, it might be short but it will stick with you.
I'll admit, I've been putting this book off for a while. It just didn't seem interesting to me. But the farther I got, the more I fell in love with the characters. And the story, too of course. It's such an amazing book.
I listened to this book in one day. I've been meaning to listen to/read it because I had seen a post about it on tumblr and how it has an asexual character and all and it was truly and beautiful, magical, heartfelt book. The performance made me feel like I was there and I was thoroughly invested in the characters the whole way through. Although I have slight mixed feelings about the end, it is a great read that I would suggest to anyone who is looking for a different kind of magical murder mystery-ish story.
"Wish it had been longer."
A lovely, dark fairytale for anyone who is, or was, one of the kids who didn't fit in.
This book was given to me so that I would try Audible. I did and I liked both - the story was excellent and the format allowed me to do other things without being tied to a particular room or location.
"Delightfully delicious and dark"
I would recommend these books to people who really like authors like Francesca Lia Block and Allyse Near.
The uniqueness of the storyline
Eleanor. I could really see her in my mind when she came onto the scene.
I probably could but don't have the time for anything like that (unfortunately!)
Sometimes in the middle to end of the book, it seems like Cynthia would mix up the voices. But there were so many characters.... so... Anyway, I still enjoyed it greatly :)
"The other half of the fairy tales"
This book tells the story of what happens after children find their way into a fairy tale story. Although the performance isn't perfect, the story is absolutely fantastic and is definitely a favorite of mine.
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