Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children, #1
Release Date: April 5th 2016
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Do you ever wonder what happened to Alice after she left Wonderland, or the Pevensie children after they returned from Narnia, or Dorothy after she wished her way back from Oz? This book answers those questions. Children find their way though doorways to strange worlds which welcome them so much more than their home ever did, but sometimes those children find their way back again. With parents who can’t understand what happened those children soon end up at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
Nancy is one of the most recent wayward children who has found her way back from where she travelled to; the Halls of the Dead. She is struggling to adjust and her parents, who can’t understand what happened to their little girl, send her to Eleanor West for therapy. There Nancy discovers that she is not the only person who travelled through a doorway, far from it. There are people who travelled through doors to evil lands and nonsense lands; lands full of skeletons and moors and rainbows and candy.
But no matter how different their worlds all of the students want one thing; to be able to go back. Normally people who return are unlikely to find their way through their doorways again but there is still hope for some of them, and hope they cannot let go of. Eleanor West hopes to help them adjust to the idea that they could be stuck here forever, but there is someone at the school who is not willing to accept that, who is willing to do anything to get back to their home no matter the cost to the other students.
Nancy has been changed by her time in the Halls of the Dead. She barely eats anymore, chooses to wear loose flowing clothes in simple colours, and can hold herself so still she almost becomes a statue. After going through her doorway Nancy now knows who she is and where she belongs but having returned home she finds herself trapped with parents who keep trying to turn her back into the girl she was before she left.
One of the things I loved about Nancy was the fact that she was asexual, and while it wasn’t a huge part of the story it was a large part of her character. I’ve never read a book with an asexual character and it was great to see it represented in this story.
There was a lot of diversity in this book, not just in terms of Nancy and her sexuality but with some of the other children who had returned. There are plenty of amazing characters all of whom have been changed by their time in their other worlds. Sumi went to a Nonsense world and despite the fact that a lot of the things that come out of her mouth make no sense she seems to have accepted that she will never be able to return.
But most of the students believe they can find their way back. Jack and Jill, for example, were changed by their world and allowed to become who they really were rather than live in the roles their parents forced on them. It was a dark world and they are ostracised by the other students, as such it is the only place they can truly belong.
Although this book is set isn’t set in any one world we learn a lot about each of the doorways the individual students travelled through. The worlds each student discovered are either High Rhyme or High Linearity, or somewhere in between the two. Nancy ended up in the Halls of the Dead, but Jack and Jill ended up in a darker world with a vampire master, mad scientists and deadly consequences. Then there are the other children who ended up in lighter worlds full of rainbow running, spider princesses, fairies and goblin kings. Each child has their own story of their world and their own story of heartache when they found themselves booted out again. Despite not travelling to any of the other worlds in this book the story does a great job of describing them and making them feel real.
Every Heart a Doorway is a beautiful story about what happens to the children who are left behind, the children who go on wonderful adventures in brand new worlds and suddenly find themselves back home, hearts full of scars. The writing is amazing, so is the story, but it’s the characters who make this book so unique and unforgettable.
What did you think of Every Heart a Doorway? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.