Sharon X Wong

Writer of words. Builder of worlds.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 6: The First Night of Safety

In Chapter 6, Jack and Jill choose their roles, their guardians, and their destiny.

More choices are made here. Real choices, this time, not simply choices over what to have for dinner. Both sisters have clear ideas over what they want, and they prioritise that over everything else.

Come and See the Show

Cory and Clarissa turned. ‘Hey Rhys, hurry up!’ 

Rhys caught up. ‘Hurry up,’ he scoffed. ‘You were the ones who left me.’ 

‘Well, the fortune teller might have got us next,’ said Clarissa with a laugh, flicking back her long blonde hair. ‘I didn’t want her grabbing at my palms and warning me of danger.’

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 5: The Roles We Choose Ourselves

In Chapter 5, we are given a proper introduction to the Moors, and dine with the people in power.

Despite the chapter title, neither Jack nor Jill are given a real choice in this chapter, not yet. Their new nicknames were given to them. They get to choose their food, but don’t get to see what it is until after the choice is made. Instead, it is the Master and Dr. Bleak who talk about choosing.

There Is An Eldritch Being At The Bottom Of My Mushroom Bucket

No, really. I’m sure of it.

For some background: I grow mushrooms. Mushrooms are a lot more like people than they are like other plants, as they breathe oxygen and consume stuff like coffee (well, used coffee grounds) and oat bran. They are low-effort to raise, as you can keep them in a sealed bucket and they will eventually poke out mushrooms. However, you do need to top up the coffee, oats and water after every harvest.

Request from a God

We have been here a long time. We don’t remember the beginning, but we were there, in the mix of swirling gases and rock and light. That was us, the light. The energy. The creation.

That is how you should think of us. Think of us like the sun. That ball of heat and light and *power*. That power has to go somewhere, and we put it into shaping the world before us. It started as just another hunk of rock, but we moulded it and added our own touches. Water. Stone. Plants. Animals.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 4: To Market, To Market, To Buy a Fat Hen

This chapter is the first of Part 2: Jill and Jack into the Black, and fittingly, it deals with the crossing of borders. This chapter marks the short space of time where the girls are free—free from their parents’ expectations, and free from the rules that govern the new world they are in.

They also make their first real choice. That’s not quite true, of course. They chose to go through the door. But that was framed as inevitable, the conclusion of the way they were brought up, with no other way out left to them. Here, they have a choice of where to go, and either by instinct or chance, they choose the Moors.

Dream Fragments

I dreamt a floating city froze in time,
I dreamt its brilliance, glory and its shine.
Its glowing stones, its flashing hues so fine,
Yet the city turned to ashes in the light

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 3: They Grow Up So Fast

In Chapter 3, we begin the adventure and enter the Moors.

By the time the girls turned twelve, it was easy for the people met them to form swift, incorrect ideas of who they were as people.

We begin the chapter as we ended the last, by examining the various ways Jacqueline and Jillian are unhappy in the roles that were set for them. We see all over how they act as they ‘should’, not as they wish. Jacqueline reads books she doesn’t enjoy and wrinkles her nose at spiders, even though she actually quite likes them.

Theft of the Tome

The thief entered the bookshop carefully. The place was supposed to be heavily defended, as it stored some of the treasures of the kingdom. But there were no guards. The books simply stood upon the shelves, some of them leaning against each other.

The most precious tomes, the ones of magic, stood on the back shelf. The thief sneered. They weren’t locked up. They weren’t even behind glass. What fools.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 2: Practically Perfect in Virtually No Ways

In Chapter 2, the Wolcotts outsource their parenting and find moulds to fit their children.

By the standards of anyone save for her ruthlessly regimented son, Louise was a disciplined, orderly woman. She liked the world to make sense and follow the rules. By the standards of her son, she was a hopeless dreamer. She thought the world was capable of kindness; she thought people were essentially good and only waiting for an opportunity to show it.

Louise, Chester’s mother, makes both her entrance and her exit in this chapter. She is here to offer another perspective, both for us and for the twins. She provides a way for us to contrast what is happening to what could be. We can see this from her first introduction that the way Chester sees her (soppy and impractical) doesn’t match the way the rest of the world sees her (disciplined and orderly). The contrast is also shown in the stories Chester and Serena tell others about Louise. It is interesting that Serena is aware that she’s not telling the truth. This isn’t just a competing narrative that holds sway because the Wolcotts are in a position of power. This is a narrative they are forcing on the world so they can look better.

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