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Come Tumbling Down: 01/25/20

Come Tumbling Down

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire is the fifth of the Wayward Children series. If one is just following Jack and Jill, this is their third novel. The first two being Every Heart a Doorway (2016) and Down Among the Sticks and Bones (2017).

The novel opens back at Eleanor's school. I continue see her as the literary progression of Shirley Jackson's protagonist in The Haunting of Hill House (1959). I realize Eleanor West has her own history, including inheriting the house cum school from a head relative — where it was Luke who was the heir to Hill House. But the way she is tied to the house and way she continues to isolate herself and the school from the real world though land purchases, feels very on brand for Eleanor Vance.

But this isn't Eleanor's story. She is just the prolog. Instead, it's about a rallying of the troops for a quest to the Moors. The quest itself is a literary exploration of body dysphoria as Jack has been switched into Jill's body against her will, while Jill is hoping to use Jack's body for her own dark purposes.

Jack arrives with her fiancé and leaves with Christopher, Kade, Sumi, and Cora. Except for Sumi, who is going just for the fun of it, the Moors are tempting alternatives for the students still searching or waiting for their to return.

In Down Among the Sticks and Bones the Moors are kept to two counterpoint areas: the windmill which is similar to the world of Frankenstein, and the castle which is equivalent to Dracula. This time the world expands to the sea and it's right out of Lovecraft's version of Rhode Island.

As with the previous four books, Come Tumbling Down sits on the road narrative spectrum. The group of questers have become friends and an ersatz family (33) at Eleanor West's school. Even if one were to focus only on Jack and Alexis as a couple, the traveler category would be the same (33).

The destination, the Moors, is for Jack and Alexis, home (66). For the others, it's a promise of a potential home. As they progress through their quest, though, it becomes obvious that the Moor's promises aren't as grand as they first sounded. A similar world is not the same. Thus for everyone else, home is redefined as a return to Eleanor West's school.

The route taken, aka travel by lightning, is offroad (66). Even once to the Moors, most of the travel is across the Moors, or through the water, or off a cliff or two. There are roads, but they aren't the route for these travelers.

All together, Come Tumbling Down is about a family of travelers looking for home via an offroad route. It's also about a couple returning home via an offroad route.

Chart showing the progression of the five books on the road narrative spectrum. Click for a larger version.

In the chart, I've included two different paths of narrative progression on the road narrative spectrum chart. The black arrows show the progression in publication order of all five books. The gray arrows show just the progression of Jack and Jill. The fifth book is the series's deepest foray into horror.

If the series will continue to form, book six would be another fantasy tale involving either an orphan, siblings, or a scarecrow/minotaur duo. Looking at the announced title, The Land of Hoof and Horn (2021), it appears the traveler will indeed be a scarecrow/minotaur story.

Five stars

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