Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart A Doorway (Wayward Children, #1)

by Seanan McGuire

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 things.

No matter the cost.

Reviewed by inlibrisveritas on

4 of 5 stars

Every Heart a Doorway is a book that openly preys on my love of portal fantasy novels. It was one of my favorite tropes growing up, and even now I hold a soft spot for it and even watch a ton of anime with a similar theme (Isekai). So it’s probably a no-brainer that I would enjoy McGuire’s first novel in her Wayward Children series, and my instinct wasn’t wrong. This is one of the more inventive ideas I’ve read surrounding portal fantasies.

I honestly have never really thought too much about what happens to those kids that are pulled into other worlds when they return to our somewhat boring one; and now that I have read this one I’m stuck wondering why it hadn’t been a question of mine all along. Every Heart a Doorway feels partially whimsical with characters tied to nonsense worlds and the idea of stepping through a doorway to another land, but then it comes with a very twisted side where some characters are tied to worlds that are dark and chilling and the home they all live in is now plagued with someone out to do harm. Not to mention to somewhat sad tales of people who feel as if they have left their true homes far behind, and are now stuck in one that is barely familiar and all too ‘normal’. I love the oddly quirky and off-center Home for Wayward Children, where parents drop off their troubled children from reform and instead place them in a home where they are understood and consoled for losing their homes possibly forever. The Home provides a sort of jumbled family full of people with shared yet vastly different experiences. I think one of the best things about Every Heart is the world building and how McGuire makes sense of the whole doorway thing. We are treated to a classification system for the individual worlds like High Logic and High Nonsense, and also Good and Evil.

I could seriously fangirl over this book nonstop, but giving it’s somewhat short page count I would be doing a disservice to anyone interesting in reading it. So without going into too much detail on the characters or plot, I will say I really love the world McGuire has crafted here. We get little glimpses of so many different worlds and to see how each person is affected was kind of cool. So much of it is both a dream and a nightmare, and I just love how well those things blend together here. I do wish this had been a full-length novel however, it just seems like there is so much more we could get into that are kind of glossed over. It’s still quite engrossing, but another hundred pages would have been a gift. The characters are really interesting as well and we mostly follow Nancy, the newest resident at the home, but there is so much diversity in the cast. We have some LGBTQA rep and so many different personalities in the mix that it’s just wonderful.

The second book is already in my upcoming TBR and I can’t wait to dig in to see how the wayward children are faring after the daunting events of book one.

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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 11 August, 2018: Finished reading
  • 11 August, 2018: Reviewed