It is not uncommon for readers to read books as a means of escapism. Immersing yourself in a fictional world can help distract from the troubles of everyday life. Even more so when the book centers around characters becoming so immersed in other worlds they can no longer cope.
Readers who want a series reminiscent of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” but with darker tones should look no further than the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. The fifth instalment in the series, “Come Tumbling Down,” was released on Jan. 7.
It begins with Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children — a place where children who can no longer cope with the mundane world on earth are sent by parents who no longer want to deal with them.
In this world, a door may open for a child leading into another world. No two worlds are the same. Some children end up in dark places run by monsters who can be best described as Dracula and Victor Frankenstien doppelgängers. Other children end up in worlds made of cotton candy and gingerbread, made of bones or filled with mermaids.
However, eventually the kids walk through a door sending them back to their old life. Their parents usually cannot deal with the ways they have changed and send them off to the School for Wayward Children.
Each book in this series is a new experience. The first follows a death at the School for Wayward Children. The second tells how two of the students, Jack and Jill, ended up in their world. The third follows the students on a quest through the multiple doors, and the fourth follows a student, this time named Lundy, as she finds her world.
The fifth installment combines the characters from the series and takes them to the Moors, the world of mad scientists and vampires, to right what has gone wrong. What went wrong would be a spoiler, for more of the series than just this installment, so that will not be discussed here. Just know, if an “Alice in Wonderland” style world with characters similar to those in “Dracula” by Bram Stoker and “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelly sounds appealing, you need to read the series immediately.
McGuire goes from poetic descriptions of the worlds and characters to her blunt dialogue seamlessly. Her writing style makes everything, including the characters, feel undeniably real, but also mystical and fictitious. While some of her books contain a larger cast of characters, she makes sure that each one has a place in the story.
If there were one word to describe the series, it would be atmospherical. McGuire has a knack for writing worlds and characters that capture attention and immerse the reader into the story. These are the kinds of books the reader gets lost in.
A downside for this series is how it constantly leaves you wanting more. Because the books are so short, with all but the fifth installment under 200 pages, some of the worlds and plots are not as flushed out as they could be. McGuire stays consistent in book size, but leaves the reader wanting to know more about the worlds the doors lead to and the characters within them.
This series is perfect for the reader that wants to escape into weird and mystical worlds and be swept away by complex characters and an atmospheric writing style.