With Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire introduced us to a vivid intersection of portal worlds containing magic, mystery, and occasional mayhem. Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Next June, readers will finally get to walk through the doorway that transported the pair to a world of vicious vampires and mad scientists in Down Among the Sticks and Bones, a new Wayward Children novella set before the events of Every Heart a Doorway.
Artist Rovina Cai illustrated a few select scenes from the book for us, bringing to life McGuire’s darkly magical world. Rovina previously illustrated scenes from Every Heart a Doorway, and we’re happy to have her on board again. Take a look at the images below, and read selections from the story!
They made an odd pair, strolling across the Moors, neither of them looking like they had a care in the world. Alexis was soft where Jack was spare, the daughter of wealthy parents who made sure she never went to bed hungry, trusting her to know her own body and its needs. (And if the local vampire favored willowy girls who would die if left outside in the slightest frost, well, loosen your belt and pass the potatoes; we’ll keep our darling daughters safe at home.) Jack’s hair was tightly braided where Alexis’s was loose, and her hands were gloved where Alexis’s were bare. But those hands were joined as tightly together as any lover’s knot had ever been, and they walked in smooth, matched steps, never turning their ankles, never forcing the other to rush.
Looking down, Jill could see her bare toes peeping out from beneath the cascading skirts, and she was grateful, because without that one small flaw, it would have all been too perfect to be real. She looked up. Mary was holding a purple choker with a small pearl-and-amethyst pendant dangling from its center. Her expression was grave.
“You are a member of the Master’s household now,” she said. “You must always, always wear your choker when you’re in the company of anyone other than the servants. That includes the Master. Do you understand me?”
“Why?” asked Jill.
Mary shook her head. “You’ll understand soon enough,” she said. Leaning forward, she tied the choker around Jill’s neck. It was tight, but not so tight as to be uncomfortable; Jill thought she would be able to get used to it. And it was beautiful. She didn’t get to wear beautiful things very often.
“There,” said Mary, stepping back and looking at her frankly. “ You’re as good as you’re going to get without more time, and time’s a thing we don’t have right now. You’re to sit quietly. Speak when spoken to. Think before you agree to anything. Do you understand?”
No, Jill thought, and “Yes,” Jill said, and that was that: there was no saving her.