Novella Review: Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire

Title: Where the Drowned Girls Go

Author: Seanan McGuire

Series: Wayward Children #7

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: 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… -Goodreads

The Review:

I’ve had so much fun with this series. It’s such a breath of fresh air between all of the dense fantasy novels I’ve been reading lately.

I don’t generally read overviews, preferring to go into everything a little blind. With this series, I was even less inclined to see what was next – the surprise of what McGuire had in store for me was one of the main draws of the series. Even when I get an indication from the title, as was the case here, I still never know what direction the author is going to take, and I love that. In a market where there’s a lot of formulaic storytelling, something that’s completely unconventional is a welcome variation.

I wasn’t totally sure what this novella would bring, but I was hopeful it would still follow one of my favorite characters of the series so far: Cora. I really love everything about her. Even though Beneath the Sugar Sky wasn’t her story, I found meaning in her POV – an acceptance of herself and a celebration of body positivity that was inspiring. Her growth arc in this book was a little more understated, but it gave her a lot more dimension and I can see the buddings of some profound convictions forming that will hopefully play a role in future installments.

So far in the series we’ve experienced some pretty weird stuff. Hair-raising phenomenon like shocking murders, corpse reanimation, and man-eating kelpies. But this novella, which takes place in our realm, was easily the eeriest one yet. It had that very clinical, white-coat regimented conviction that there’s something wrong with these kids and they’re going to “fix” them no matter what. Certain elements regarding this part of the story introduced what I thought was a brilliant idea for an overarching conflict for the series. And although I’ve been terrible at predicting so far where things are going to go next, I really hope that idea is explored heavily in future novellas. As is, I cannot wait for the next one!

Recommendations: this portal fantasy series is awesome if you like cool concepts, unconventional storytelling, great representation in characters, and food for thought beyond what’s on the pages.

I would like to thank TOR Publishing for an early copy of Where the Drowned Go – it prompted a read of the whole series that ended up being a highlight of my year. Thank you!

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by Niki Hawkes

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