Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire
Publisher: Tor Dot Com
Publication date: 04 January 2022
Page count: 160 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
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…
I have my ups and downs with the Warward Children books, but Where the Drowned Girls Go is an excellent addition to the series. It pulls back from the worlds beyond the doors and instead investigates what happens to the children who don’t attend Eleanor West’s school — the children who are told to forget, whether they want to or not.
I feel like Where the Drowned Girls Go is among the most realistic and relatable books in this series, both in terms of Cora’s story and The Whitethorn Institute and their approach to dealing with the kids who return from their adventures beyond the doors. This book made my heart ache, especially as we see how stories from prior books tie into this one.
Cora was one of my favourite characters, and I was totally thrilled to see her story expanded on in this book. Her backstory is so tragic and all too familiar to so many kids. She was bullied terribly for her weight and spent her life dealing with the sneers and disgust of fellow students and even adults — her unwilling return to the real world was so tragic. However, watching her strength grow over the course of this book was incredibly rewarding. The Whitethorn Institute is a house of horrors for any child who still believes in and yearns for the magic on other other side of the doors, and Cora’s strength really shines in this setting (whether she likes it or not). She’s been solidified as of the the best characters in the series.
This is a very short review, but I think it’s best to dive into this book without knowing too much about where McGuire will take you. Where the Drowned Girls Go is less whimsical than the other books in this series, but provides a much-needed look at the world beyond the walls of Eleanor West’s school and what is at stake for the wayward children.
Content warnings: fatphobia, bullying, suicide as backstory
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