TITLE: Where the Drowned Girls Go (Wayward Children, #7)
AUTHOR: Seanan McGuire
AGE RANGE: Adult
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...
When Eleanor West had decided to open her school, her sanctuary, her Home for Wayward Children, she had known from the beginning that there would be children she couldn’t save. Children whose journeys had broken them in ways she was unequipped to handle; children whose parents refused to understand the difference between harming them and healing them. Still, she had looked at her probable losses with open eyes, and decided that the cost was worth it. Still, she had placed the sign in the window, and hoped it would be enough to guide them home, to harbor, to her. No solicitation. No visitors. No quests.
I adore this series with everything in my contented little reader heart, and this newest installment — well, I always want to call each new installment my new favorite in the series, but at this point, I suppose they’re all my favorites. That said, Where the Drowned Girls Go focuses on Cora, who we’ve spent time with before and who I was missing very much, but we also get to meet quite a few new characters and experience an entirely new setting — with a twist. Instead of visiting a new door, we finally get to meet the folks behind Eleanor West’s Home’s opposite: the Whitethorn Institute.
Where Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children is welcoming and supportive, Whitethorn is uptight, strict, and determined to rip the doors out of the children within its halls, by choice or otherwise. The book starts off with Cora, feeling ruined and broken by her experiences within the Moors, committing herself to Whitethorn in hopes that, if they can separate her from her door, they can separate her from what she found within the Moors, too. While many of the books in this series don’t have to be read in a specific order, I will say that you’ll definitely want to have already read Beneath the Sugar Sky and Come Tumbling Down before you pick up Where the Drowned Girls Go.
No one was coming to save her. This was how she saved herself.
There is an incredibly small amount that I can say about the plot of this novella, because much of it hinges upon a surprise that I did not see coming and was entirely delighted by. That said, what I can tell you is that this book focuses strongly on bullying/harassment, and how society and the institutions children are placed in are entirely complicit in childhood cruelty. It also touches on strictness placed upon children and the ways that adults often mistake laws for love, much to the detriment of the spirits of those in their care. Time and time again, I’m enraptured by how clearly Seanan understands how common and easy it is for authority figures to hurt children while never even realizing it (as a parent who tries very hard to become more self-aware every single day with my child, this is a topic I’m very grateful for the exploration of in this series).
“I am not your door.” After a pause for thought, she added, “But I might be my own.”
I love this series, this world, and these characters endlessly. I’m forever grateful for Seanan McGuire’s writing and how lovely and eye-opening her social commentary is, just as I’m so thankful for the representation in this series (if you want literal pages of me crying over how wonderful the writing of Cora’s fat rep is, see my review of Beneath the Sugar Sky). I already am counting down the days to the 8th piece in this series and can’t wait to see what Seanan does next.
All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this review copy in exchange for an honest review!
WARNINGS (no spoilers):
mentions of suicide attempts and suicidal ideation; fatphobia; bullying; ableism
Cora is fat; Sumi is Japanese-American; Kade is a trans boy; multiple other side characters are queer and/or BIPOC
— destiny ♥