Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)
Down Among the Sticks and Bones is calm and dark, unafraid of gore; more interested in the slow transformation of two people distorted by ill-fitting molds, suddenly released to find very different paths with new kinds of darkness, surety settling in their bones.
This was a (relatively) calm way to learn more of a very strange and haunting story that was briefly described in Every Heart a Doorway. I'd been intrigued by Jack and Jill and I loved this opportunity to learn more about them. There's a lot of care here, for the characters and the audience. At several points the unnamed narrator tells us that a particular very bad thing happens, and trusts us to manage our own imaginations as to whether we'd like to dwell on gory details. Certain kinds of darkness are left unsaid, while others are dragged into the light, given no shadows in which to hide.
It's a horrific tale, darker somehow for the feeling of creeping inevitability granted by knowing how it ends before it's begun. It's about the journey when we already know the destination, and I treasure the path this pulled me along. If you were comfortable with the kind of darkness and horror in the first book then you'll likely be fine with this one. It feels like slowly probing the edges of a certain level of grim atmosphere and familiarity with death, turning over tiny pieces of something shattered and exhaling slowly when it's as bad as you thought, but no worse; you already knew it had broken.
CW for murder, gore, grooming, major character death.