I had encountered McGuire’s work earlier this year, thanks to a recommendation by Himself – read my review of Rosemary and Rue here. So when this novella featured on NetGalley, my attention was caught. However, I’m not a fan of novellas, generally. Far too often, I’m just getting into the swing of the story when it all comes skidding to a halt. Would this be the case, this time around?
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 new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things. No matter the cost.
It’s an intriguing premise. I was convinced I was reading one type of genre – and then found I was reading something quite different. Huge kudos to whoever wrote the blurb to this story – it’s smart and snappy and sets up the narrative without revealing anything vital.
The McGuire magic soon had me engrossed in this little treasure. This delicately told tale pulled me into heartbreak and strangeness of the situation, before ambushing me with the gothic element that ripples through this story. We get sprinkles, unicorns and blood-dripping horror all wrapped up in this story, which is beautifully paced and perfectly concluded.
In short, this is a gem. And I read the last page with a lump in my throat – something that rarely happens in full-length books when I have 300+ pages to grow to care for a character.