Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Come Tumbling Down, by Seanan McGuire

★★★☆☆ Honorable mention

(Portal Fantasy; Wayward Children) Jack returns from the Moors and begs her classmates to help her steal her body back from her sister before the Master can turn it into a vampire. (40,029 words; Time: 2h:13m)

To properly appreciate this story, you need to at least read Every Heart a Doorway, if not the rest of the Wayward Children series. See related articles on Tor.com.

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Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2020.053 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: From previous stories, we know that Jack served Dr. Bleak while Jill served The Master. Jack thwarted the Master’s desire to make Jill a vampire by killing and resurrecting her—the resurrected can’t become vampires. So the Master managed to kill Dr. Bleak and force Jack and Jill to swap bodies—Jack’s body still being never-resurrected—making it possible for him to get the vampire girl he wants after all.

Jack (in Jill’s body) returns to the Home for Wayward Children to get help—even though this breaks the “no quests” rule.

There’s really little to complain about with this story. The goal is clear: restore Jack to her original body and resurrect Dr. Bleak. The logic of the Moors is clear enough, and the rules never take us by surprise. The are plenty of obstacles and distractions on the way, so the plot isn’t too easy. And, as always, the writing is excellent: transparent narration with natural dialogue. There’s plenty of tension, and there’s enough comic moments too.

Con: There’s nothing special about it. Since it’s not a stand-alone story, it’s fair to compare it with the earlier works. Here, we revisit the Moors, so there’s no new world building, and we revisit characters from the earlier stories as well—there’s little or no new character development here.

No one except Jack has a goal. Everyone else is here to help Jack achieve her goal. Jill and the Master verge on cardboard villains.

All of the stories in this series have a message about learning to accept that you’re different and finding a way to live in a world that doesn’t accept you but without ever giving up on making your dreams come true. This resonates powerfully with almost anyone from the LGBT community (me included). In this story, though, I felt the message was a lot more heavy-handed than in previous installments.

Finally, it bothered me that Miss West caved so easily when her students decided to defy her and go on a quest. If she can’t control them, and they have no respect for her anymore, then it’s either time for her to retire or time for them to leave.

Other Reviews: Search Web, GoodReads.com
Seanan McGuire Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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