Sunday, January 12, 2020

Review: Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Book: Every Heart A Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #1
Publication: April 5, 2016

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

I will be bluntly honest: from the synopsis, I thought this was a middle-grade book. The book's short length only enforced this perspective. But it's not! It's YA!

I love a good portal fantasy book. The whole idea of being plucked out of my ordinary mundane life, thrust into a different world, and then saving it and being proclaimed a hero is literally a constant dream. But the question I've always asked: what happens when (or if) the main character goes back home to our world? How the heck would they cope? How would they deal with being forced to do mundane things, when they've already gone and done extraordinary ones? Because honestly, the transition would be seriously rough.

This book (or this series) gathers these questions up in its arms and runs with it. And it is spectacular. Every kid in Eleanor's home has gone to a different world and come back. Whether having left by choice or not, all these kids are trying to find their way back home; none of them are willing to accept that they are fated to remain in this world. (There actually is a sister school for kids who come back from other worlds and are desperately trying to forget everything and assimilate back into their normal lives, but that definitely sounds...well, depressing). 

This is not one of those "institution that holds unspeakable horrors" or is trying to "correct" the kids or even treats them like psychological freaks. No, not at all. Why? Because Eleanor, who runs the school, is also someone who went to a different world and is waiting to return. So this is a school of acceptance and hope, which I found very powerful.

The other thing I really enjoyed was that I literally feel each character's loss and desperation to get back to their world. It's kind of like when I finish a book, and then I'm forced to have to return to my life when I've just been on grand adventures with characters saving a different world and I feel important. It feels unbearable, and all the characters really resonated with that part of me.

I really loved the imagination of the author and all the unique worlds that each of the students from Miss Eleanor's home have been to. We get to see the culture and celebration and rules behind each world, and be awed at how different and wonderful and interesting all the other worlds these children have gone to are. You have Fairylands and Underworlds, Nonsense worlds and Logic worlds, and so forth. All with their unique rules.

There is one character that stood out: Jack. I simply adored her. I just loved how unabashed she was about being a mad scientist. She's doesn't mind that people dislike her for being engrossed with the dead and other forms of morbid sciences, but she does mind it when people think less of her abilities. Some of my favourite lines are when she says she's insulted that people think she would wait so long to murder someone (she would/has the capacity to do instantly if she wanted), or that she would have use for certain human part when she clearly does not have the instruments to study them properly. 

Despite its short length, there was still a well-developed story within it. The touch of mystery made the book very compelling and gripping. Combined with the short length, it was easy to breeze through the book in a day. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series!


  1. I got this book for Christmas, so I’m glad you liked it!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. Great review, Erika! I've heard a lot of people loving this series and since it's pretty short, I want to get to them this year!

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress