Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series of portal-fantasy adventures have been captivating readers since 2016. If you’re a newcomer looking for the Wayward Children series book order, you’re in luck. We’ve got everything you need to know about these amazing novellas below.
The first Wayward Children novella, Every Heart a Doorway, introduced Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children: a boarding school for kids who walked through hidden doors into fantasy worlds—think the Chronicles of Narnia or Alice in Wonderland—only to later be sent back to Reality. They might have lived years in the otherworld, only to return to the exact moment they left home, or find that several years passed in the single month they were away.
Whatever the case, these “wayward” children usually encounter massive difficulties reintegrating into society. They often spend their time searching for the door that would lead them back to the otherworld. Meanwhile, everyone around them thinks they’ve become mentally ill, or that they were kidnapped and have developed some maladaptive way of coping with the trauma.
Eleanor is a former wayward child herself. She finds these children and offers them a safe place to acknowledge and discuss what happened to them—all while making it clear that they will most likely never find their door again.
About Author Seanan McGuire
Seanan McGuire is a California native who now lives in Washington. She is the author of several lengthy series. Her work typically focuses on fairy tales and folklore, with a twist.
McGuire’s 2009 debut novel, Rosemary and Rue, kickstarted the October Daye series, which is 16 novels long and counting at the time of this writing. This urban fantasy series follows October “Toby” Daye, a half-Fae changeling who leaves Faerie for the human world where she was born, only to be pulled back in when she’s tasked with investigating the murder of a Fae.
In 2012, McGuire launched another urban fantasy series, InCryptid, which centers on cryptozoologist Verity Price. Years prior to the events of the first book, Discount Armageddon, Verity’s great-grandparents famously left the Covenant of St. George—a secret order sworn to eliminate every species that was not represented on Noah’s Ark. Now, Verity and her family study and protect the cryptids the Covenant wants to kill. At the time of this writing, McGuire has published 11 InCryptid books. The series is ongoing.
McGuire’s Ghost Roads series, launched in 2014, imagines backstories for the roadside ghosts popular in U.S. urban legends. The series takes place in the InCryptid universe.
Alchemical Journeys is the latest McGuire series. It currently consists of two books: 2019’s Middlegame and 2022’s Seasonal Fears. A. Deborah Baker, the pseudonym under which McGuire publishes her Up-and-Under series for middle-grade readers, appears as a character in Alchemical Journeys.
Writing as Mira Grant, McGuire has published three horror series: Newsflesh, a zombie series; Parasitology, which imagines a near-future in which tapeworms offer a panacea to humanity’s ills; and Rolling in the Deep, about a race of man-eating mermaids.
The Wayward Children Series Book Order
Fair warning, there are spoilers for some of the Wayward Children books ahead. If you’re a newcomer to McGuire’s work, here’s the Wayward Children series book order you should follow:
Every Heart a Doorway
Every Heart a Doorway centers on Nancy, the newest student at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Nancy spent years in the Halls of the Dead, where she learned to be still and quiet to serve the Lord of the Dead and his consort, the Lady of Shadows, as a Statue. When she returns to Reality, her parents don’t understand why she doesn’t want to wear her old, colorful clothes, or why her black hair turned white. They send her to Eleanor West’s, where she soon finds herself caught up in a grisly murder mystery.
At Eleanor West’s, Nancy meets a wide array of students who appear in subsequent Wayward Children books. She rooms with Sumi, who went to a candy-themed world called Confection. Sumi introduces Nancy to a longtime resident named Kade, whose door led him to Prism, a fairyland, but the people there rejected him when they found out he was trans. He makes clothes for the other children at Eleanor West’s, so that they don’t have to give up the aesthetics of their otherworlds.
Nancy’s other acquaintances at Eleanor West’s include Christopher, a boy who plays a bone flute and pines for his fiancée, the Skeleton Girl; Lundy, a former wayward child turned guidance counselor who is aging backward; and Jack and Jill, twin girls who found their way to a gothic-horror world called The Moors, where they were adopted separately by a mad scientist and a vampire king.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Jack and Jill take center stage in Down Among the Sticks and Bones. The second Wayward Children novel recounts the girls’ time in The Moors. There, Jill went to live with The Master, a vampire lord, and grew up dressed in finery and longing to become a vampire like him. Meanwhile, Jack studied medicine and mad science under the Frankenstein-esque Dr. Bleak, and fell in love with one of his patients, the formerly dead Alexis. Neither girl wanted to leave The Moors, but fate clearly had other plans.
Beneath the Sugar Sky
Beneath the Sugar Sky centers on Rini, who was born in Confection and has come to Reality looking for her missing mother, Sumi. There’s just one problem: in Reality, Sumi has been dead ever since the events of Every Heart a Doorway. Now, Rini is slowly disappearing. If she doesn’t soon find a way to resurrect Sumi, she might be erased from existence entirely.
In an Absent Dream
Lundy’s story finally gets told in the fourth Wayward Children book. In an Absent Dream follows 6-year-old Lundy into the Goblin Market, an otherworld that will let her pass back and forth between it and Reality—but will force her to choose one or the other in the end. The Goblin Market is all about contracts and deals, each with its own varying degree of risk. Lundy’s 18th birthday is fast approaching. Can she make a deal that will allow her to straddle the border between the Goblin Market and Reality for a while longer?
Come Tumbling Down
Jack and Jill’s return to The Moors has taken a very bad turn. Because the people Dr. Bleak revives have already died once, they cannot become vampires. That means Jill can’t fulfill her dream—at least, not in her own body. Everyone’s surprised when Alexis carries Jill’s body through a magical door to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. They’re even more surprised once she reveals that she’s actually brought Jack back to Reality. The twins have body-swapped, leaving Jill to inhabit Jack’s body in The Moors, where she hopes The Master will turn her into a vampire. It’s a race to undo the swap, in Come Tumbling Down.
Across the Green Grass Fields
Across the Green Grass Fields introduces a brand-new wayward child. Regan is an intersex girl whose love of horses brings her to the Hooflands, an otherworld dominated by centaurs, kelpies, unicorns, and other hoofed creatures. Every Hooflands native knows that humans only come there to fulfill some heroic destiny. Does that mean Regan will be the one to slay the evil Queen Kagami and free the hooved folk forever?
Where the Drowned Girls Go
Cora’s door led her to the Trenches, where she transformed into a mermaid and became a celebrated hero. It was only by accident that she washed up in Reality. She thought she’d found a way back when she accompanied Jack to The Moors during the events of Come Tumbling Down. There, the strange Drowned Gods marked her as their own. Even though she came back to Reality, they’re still calling for her. By the time Where the Drowned Girls Go opens, Cora’s memories of life in the Trenches have become unbearable. She makes a desperate choice: leave Eleanor West’s and travel to the Whitethorn Institute, where wayward children learn to forget their doors.
Lost in the Moment and Found
Lost in the Moment and Found centers on Antsy, a small girl who has endured enough trauma for a lifetime. First, her father died in front of her. Then, her mother refused to believe that her new husband was a predator. Antsy fled to avoid her stepfather’s abuse, and ran directly into the Shop Where the Lost Things Go, an otherworld with doors to even more otherworlds—some of which Wayward Children readers will have already heard of.
Is the Wayward Children series finished?
No, the Wayward Children series is not finished.
How many books will be in the Wayward Children series?
There will be at least 10 books in the Wayward Children series, according to a 2020 announcement from publisher Tordotcom.
Does the Wayward Children series need to be read in order?
Yes. In an interview with Grimdark Magazine, McGuire said: “I will never recommend reading anything but in order, and the books are not actually written as stand-alones, ever. Some of them require more or less background, but all are informed by what comes either before or after.”
Which fantasy books did Seanan McGuire write?
1. Rosemary and Rue (2009)
2. A Local Habitation (2010)
3. An Artificial Night (2010)
4. Late Eclipses (2011)
5. One Salt Sea (2011)
6. Ashes of Honor (2012)
7. Chimes at Midnight (2012)
8. The Winter Long (2014)
9. A Red-Rose Chain (2015)
10. Once Broken Faith (2016)
11. The Brightest Fell (2016)
12. Night and Silence (2018)
13. Sparrow Hill Road (2014)
14. Every Heart a Doorway (2016)
15. Down Among the Sticks and Bones (2017)
16. Beneath the Sugar Sky (2018)
17. In an Absent Dream (2019)
18. Come Tumbling Down (2020)