Where the Drowned Girls Go By Seanan McGuire

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Where the Drowned Girls Go (Wayward Children Book 7) By Seanan McGuire

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Book/Novel Author: Seanan McGuire

Book/Novel Title: Where the Drowned Girls Go

 

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In Where the Drowned Girls Go, the next addition to Seanan McGuire’s beloved Wayward Children series, students at an anti-magical school rebel against the oppressive faculty”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…At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
I am a bit conflicted about this book. I enjoy the story and the characters, but certain aspects of the point of view character’s worldview rub me the wrong way. I love the fact that in this volume (the 7th entry in the series) we finally learn about the fantasy worlds that are not positive experiences, and we get to explore the previously mentioned school for children who are so traumatized they only want to forget their quests. The Nameless Girl suffers the aftereffects of a land of rats who stole her name. The Headmaster travels to a two-dimensional world made of paper and cardboard that strips him of all his uniqueness. Cora cannot shake the horrors of the Drowned Gods of the Moors. Her fear is so salient she wants to abandon her potential future as a mermaid in the Trenches just to make her night terrors stop. Whitethorn School is the mirror opposite of Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Whitethorn gaslights students into believing their fantasy worlds are not real. It encourages them to deny the parts of their personalities that opened the portal doors to begin with. It forces conformity and suppresses individuality: “If oatmeal were a person, it would sound like that girl.” I could not help but wonder if the author was using Whitethorn to take a swipe at organized religion. “This place, it’s small. It’s hard and small and mean. It knows what’s true for you isn’t always true for me, and it doesn’t care because it wants to make us all have the same kind of truth and believe it in the same kind of way. It’s a bad place. It thinks it’s helping but it isn’t.” One of the recurring themes of the novel is Cora’s understanding of truth. What is real? Who gets to interpret the history of what happened in all the children’s lives? Cora and her friends believe truth is absolute when it suits their purposes– they castigate adults who deny their fantasy worlds exist (“it hurts to deny what your heart knows is true”). Sometimes they believe truth is relative: “What’s true for you isn’t always true for me.” “Sometimes a thoughtful person is not thinking what you would wish them to think. Sometimes a thoughtful person is thinking about how to punish you for denying what is true to them”. In a slightly different context, the nature of “truth” is addressed through the lens of bullying. Cora is bulled because of her weight and appearance: “There was nothing wrong with any part of her. She was healthy, and happy, and fat, something which everyone who met her was quick to point out, some in tones of gleeful disgust, others in tones of shameful condemnation. Did she not know that she was fat, perhaps? Had she missed that essential fact of her own physical reality, and needed it explicitly explained to her?” “Maybe a hero can be a bully? How can you choose good over evil if everyone does not agree what evil is? Under enough pressure, maybe good is just saving yourself?” I like that this book promotes healthy body image (especially among young girls). However, the book creates a new truth that goes too far. It depicts Cora as always eating healthy foods, moderate portion sizes, and exercising regularly. It declares (more than once) she is healthy but that her body just clings to fat more than most. In attempting to create a life-affirming message, the narrative actually explicitly denies the scientific reality of the relationship between caloric intake, exercise, and weight. It significantly downplays the dangers of childhood obesity. What’s left is an ironic world view that sees gender as fluid and weight as an unmovable constant, like height or race. I listened to the audiobook read by Whitney Johnson.
You know what’s great and simultaneously frustrating? Reading through the Open Door series and racing the end, only to realize your fic is only partially sated. Can’t wait for the next one, I’ll be treating through then all until then!
This is a Young Adult Fantasy, and this is the 7th book in the Wayward Children series. I have read and reviewed the other books in this series, but I do not think you need to read the other books in the series before reading this book. There is a couple things that bother me about this book. I did not love the fat stuff in this book, and the character to me was just ok. The ending was fill of action, and I loved how the ending unfolded. I really wanted more action though out the book and not just at the end. I did love I got some characters for the other books in this book.
I always love a new addition to this series. They are fairly short books but pack in a lot. The content is fantasy-esque but tends to touch on deeper topics of mental health and/or body image. This one was no different. Body image was pretty front and center in this one. It was done tastefully, as always. This installment introduced new characters but not a new portal world. It was interesting to visit the White Thorn Institute but I really prefer the books about the different worlds behind the doors. I think next year we will be getting a new portal world book and I can’t wait!
Filled with sad distant dreams and hopeful tomorrows, this continuation of wonderful worlds, paths, directions, and yes, doors, will go on to fulfill your heart and souls.
This one’s not the best in the Wayward Children series, but it’s still plenty good enough. The tale deals with Cora, who’s back at Eleanor West’s and still troubled by the Drowned Gods. She wrangles a transfer to Whitethorn, a competing school for door-finders, one that tries to normalize them. As a parable for learning to love the weird within us (and warning about fat-shaming) it’s fine, but what plot there is is filled with a bit of deus ex mechanica, and the ending is uncertain. I expect McGuire is going to tell us more about all this in the next book or two. For fans of the series.

 

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