Review | Every Heart a Doorway

Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Series Details: Wayward Children #1
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date:
April 05, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, Young Adult

Blurb from Goodreads:

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.

You’re nobody’s rainbow.
You’re nobody’s princess.
You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends.

Children disappear into magical lands—the underworld, the goblin market, the fairyland—through mysterious doorways. There they get to live the kind of life they really wanted though not completely without dangers. Some were sucked into dark and violent worlds. And while other doors led to ones filled with candies and rainbows, it is just as deadly.

There, these children found a home, fell in love, and felt that they belong. Most of them wanted to stay and even learned to adapt to its ways no matter how weird, only to find out one day that they’re being sent back to their real world. But how do you live your old life when you’ve already found a perfect one in a world that understands and accepts who you are? So, despite knowing how dangerous these magical places are, all they ever wanted was to come back.

“For us, the places we went were home. We didn’t care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. We cared about the fact that for the first time, we didn’t have to pretend to be something we weren’t. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world.”

Every Heart a Doorway is a peculiar read with just the right amount of creepy in it. Sure, we’ve all read or heard a story or two about children finding a portal and disappearing into a magical world. But what gives a unique taste to this book is the way McGuire sketched these worlds and the characters in it.  She weaves them in the simplest way—not too many words but also not taking the atmosphere of both magic and menace off it.

The diversity in this book is incredible. For a short book, we see a wonderful amount of representations in the characters, and I think that’s what makes this special. Even though it’s difficult to understand the characters’ eagerness to come back to those dangerous worlds, I can relate to them wanting to be in a place where they can just be themselves. A place that accepts them, quirks and all.

Overall, I find this book strange yet appealing, playful, and beautifully plotted. It carries a lot for such a short book—magic, horror, and surprise. I wasn’t expecting to be totally satisfied—because most novellas always leave me wanting more—but thankfully everything was neatly tied together by the end of this one. I have no idea how the rest of this series will be like, but I think it’s going to be just as creepy.

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