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Literature / Wayward Children

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The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire is about the residents of Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, which is a Boarding School, for children who went to Magical Lands, got kicked out, and wanted to return.

The books in the series are:

  1. Every Heart a Doorway (2016)
  2. Down Among the Sticks and Bones (2017)
  3. Beneath the Sugar Sky (2018)
  4. In An Absent Dream (2019)
  5. Come Tumbling Down (2019)

This series contains examples of the following tropes:

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  • Abusive Parents: For a door to open, something major has to be missing in a child that they yearn to get back and that only their world can give them, and in the majority of cases it's due to their parents.
  • Arc Words: "Be Sure", written in many magical lands on the entrance and warning the children that they must be sure they want their magical land.
  • Backstory: Every even book is a backstory for one of the characters introduced in the general arc. So far we've had Jack and Jill's backstory in Down Among the Sticks And Bones and Lundy's backstory from In An Absent Dream.
  • Boarding School: Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, which is for children who went to Magical Lands, got kicked out, and wanted to return.
  • Improbably Female Cast: While the worlds call to anyone, the majority of travelers are girls. Eleanor explains that it's not because of any inherent magic, but just because boys in general tend to be raised to be the center of attention, so they have fewer opportunities to get to their worlds.
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  • Trapped in Another World: The whole series is a deconstruction and reconstruction of portal fantasy. When the children come home they're permanently changed, often can't relate to their peer group or family, and want nothing more than to return, and often end up institutionalized or on the streets because they refuse to forget the things they've seen. At the same time, the worlds are where children truly belong and where they become their fullest selves.


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