Stephanie M. Wytovich
Opening Doors, Discovering Worlds: A Review of Seanan McGuire's Come Tumbling Down
I’ve made it no secret that one of—if not my absolute—favorite book series is by Seanan McGuire. Her Wayward Children series is the perfect form of escapism for me—especially now—and I honestly could spend forever following these children through door after door, world after word. Whether I’m hanging out in The Moors, in Confection, or Mariposa, there’s always something magical, enchanting, positively wondrous that I get to explore, even if it makes me uncomfortable at times. And let me tell you: coming from a little girl who used to run through the woods looking for fairy doors, these books were an absolute dream come true.
Now I recently finished the latest book in the series Come Tumbling Down, and I was so excited to be back at The Moors, hanging out with Jack and Jill, and getting a look into this monstrous, vampiric world of electricity. Jack and Jill have always been some of my favorite characters because they’re wildly complex with how they tackle issues of identity, sexuality, presentation, etc. One of my favorite things about how McGuire writes is that she does so with a gentle, yet bluntly honest tone and it’s how I’ve wanted someone to speak to me about sexuality and gender all my life. Her character Jack is a perfect example of this. I like that Jack is shedding—sometimes literally-the body of her past and stepping into who she is really is: a brilliant, gay, mad scientist who loves deeply, honestly, and without shame. She embraced all of her darkness, all the parts of her shadow self that she needed to learn to love, and the result of that is something truly admirable and beautiful: a woman, and a strong woman at that, who loves herself, knows herself, and is proud of the work that she does.
If I’m being honest with you, I wish I had met Jack growing up as a teen.
This book acts as the closing chapter on Jack and Jill’s conflict with one another. It’s gruesome, it tugs on a lot of heartstrings regarding friendship, loyalty, love, and sisterhood, and something that I was really excited to dig into was the Lovecraftian aspects of the story that included The Drowned Gods. Now I’m a sucker for sea horror, and if there are mermaids and sirens hanging out in the water, you can best be sure that I’m all over it—which side note: if you haven’t read Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant, definitely get on that. The other aspect of this story, and this world, that I really loved is how influenced it is by Mary Shelley. We have a feminist retelling here with a mad scientist who loves her monster and who reanimates for the good of the people rather than for her pride. There’s electricity, and graveyard robbing, and weird viscous body parts in jars, and magnificent storms, and again, it’s just everything that I could have ever wanted in a fantasy world.
I mean, I think it’s obvious I’m meant for The Moors!
I was, however, a little disappointed at the end of the story, because I didn’t feel like I got to witness enough of the conflict; for instance, I felt like there was such a big build up to the war that was happening, especially with the inclusion of the The Drowned Gods, and honestly, I didn’t think there was enough interaction between them, the villagers, the vampire, and Jack and Jill. Essentially, I wanted more blood, more fight scenes, more imagery and description surrounding the characters (most notably The Drowned Gods) and the part they all had to play in it. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the end, I just wanted more.
But I always want more with these stories. I want to live and breathe and exist inside these worlds, so I think my longing from a reader standpoint, is what drives a lot of that. Like I said before, I could spend years in these worlds and never have enough time, and at the end of the day, I think that’s the best compliment that I can give McGuire and her writing.
She’s simply brilliant and if I could ask for anything from her…
I would ask for my own door.
I give this book 4 out of 5 lightning bolts.
NOTE: For a full breakdown of the worlds, click here.