New Release Review: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Book #1 in Every Heart a Doorway
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: April 5th 2016
ARC Provided by Tor and Netgalley

Synopsis 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.


Christal’s Review

Every Heart a Doorway was different than Seanan McGuire’s other series, but it also felt familiar in some ways.  It had more of a traditional fantasy feel, almost Alice in Wonderland-esque, than October Daye or Incryptid, but it also kept some of the same urban fantasy beats and snark.  I really enjoyed it but I do think this is one of those series where you can’t get too attached to any one character.

Every Heart a Doorway is a very short novel, but it is packed with characters and plot.  Eleanor West herself has traveled the doors to different worlds and now she runs a school for children like her.  These children have visited other worlds but, for one reason or another, have been cast out and back into our “normal” world.  Their parents thought they had just run away or been kidnapped and don’t know how to deal with the wild stories they tell upon their returns.  That’s where Eleanor comes in.  She takes these children in and gives them a place, maybe not a home exactly, but at least a place where they are not looked at as insane.  A big part of this book focuses on the longing the children feel for the home they lost, but there is also a murderer afoot!  Everything ties together really well and the characters develop tremendously for such a short page count.  I really connected to Nancy, Kade, and Jack and felt like I understood them very well, even though this is just a first book and I don’t even know if they will be in future novels.

I think one of my favorite aspects in Every Heart a Doorway was the world building.  Seanan wasn’t content with creating just dozens of different worlds; she had to come up with a unique system about how to categorize said worlds.  From Logic to Nonsense and Virtue to Wickedness, each world falls on the scale.  This describes the type of world it is and, sometimes, how it affected the children that visited.

One last thing to mention about Every Heart a Doorway is that it deals with gender issues in a subtle and beautiful way.  We have both a transgender young man and an asexual heroine and it’s not a big thing.  It’s not treated as an issue in the book; it’s just who those characters are.  Sure, teenagers are vicious and some nasty comments are made, but they are quickly shut down and shown to be clearly in the wrong.

This story was much-needed for me, as I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump, and I appreciated that such a well-developed story could be told with the brevity and restraint demonstrated here.  Every Heart a Doorway has continued to prove that Seanan McGuire is a story-telling master and I can’t wait to see what worlds the future books hold.

Thank you to Tor via Netgalley for providing an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 Stars = B

Series Reading Order:
1. Every Heart a Doorway
2. Down Among the Sticks and Bones [Expected publication: 2017]
3. Beneath the Sugar Sky [Expected publication: 2018]

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