In Where the Drowned Girls Go, the next addition to Seanan McGuire’s beloved Wayward Children series, students at an anti-magical school rebel against the oppressive faculty.
“Welcome to the Whitethorn Institute. The first step is always admitting you need help, and you’ve already taken that step by requesting a transfer into our company.”
There is another school for children who fall through doors and fall back out again.
It isn’t as friendly as Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
And it isn’t as safe.
When Eleanor West decided to open her school, her sanctuary, her “Home for Wayward Children”, she knew from the beginning that there would be children she couldn’t save; when Cora decides she needs a different direction, a different fate, a different prophecy, Miss West reluctantly agrees to transfer her to the other school, where things are run very differently by Whitethorn, the Headmaster.
She will soon discover that not all doors are welcoming….
As usual, anything that Seanan McGuire writes, I devour. This next book in the Wayward Children series, Where the Drowned Girls Go is no exception. Really, the far more important question is why is it so good and is there any novel of Seanan McGuire’s that isn’t?
Sometimes with such excellent writing, I struggle to articulate just why I like it and just what to say in my book review. Some of the core reasons that Where the Drowned Girls Go is so good is that the characters are so memorable. We first met Cora previously in the series but she has been scarred by the events of the past quest to aid Jack. She struggles with dreams and her memories of Jack’s world, especially the ocean. And even if Cora were the only fascinating character that would be enough but there is a deep complexity to every character in the story, even minor ones. There is someone that every person can connect to, can empathize with, even those that want to fit in and do what they’re told. Oddly, even those characters Seanan is able to create empathy towards them. Cora finds out that the new school isn’t quite what it seems but more importantly, she finds out that some girls just want to fit in and obey the rules. But what makes Cora so intriguing is that she wants to do what’s right, whether she fits in or not. That caring, that strength, are what makes Cora such an incredible character and a hero, whether she wants to be or not.
The other reason that this story is so engrossing is how the girls in the novel fight against oppression. Whether they like it or not, whether they want to follow the rules or not, each girl eventually finds that they must face the oppression of the school and find a way to fight it, even if that way is supporting those who fight more openly. This is a story of female imperative, women facing up to the very male oppression and finding a way to either escape or fight against those who would harm them. Many of Seanan’s stories have this same theme and ultimately this theme of the oppressed or downtrodden is why so many of us find her words resonate with us. Every word, every thought always resonates and rings authentically to me and makes me come back over and over for her novels, even the ones that seem like they’d only be a fun story from the description. There’s always a deeper level to everything she writes and it is so compelling, so riveting and why I love reading Seanan’s books. She makes my book review easy.
I highly recommend reading this story. While it can be read as stand alone, there are some bits that might be missed or not understood without reading the rest of the novels in the series, so I do recommend that you read the others first, even if you need to pick them up from your local library. If you want to order them, you can put in an order with Duncan’s Books and More. And if you like my book review, please let us know.
Rating: 5 out of 5 students