Every Heart a Doorway


Title: Every Heart a Doorway

Author: Seanan McGuire

Series: Wayward Children, #1

Publisher: Tor.com

Release Date: April 5th 2016


Five Stars

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

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…

…The Plot

“You know, I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when I was a kid, and I never thought about what it would be like for Alice when she went back to where she’d started. I figured she’d just shrug and get over it. But I can’t do that.”

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.

“Before I went through that doorway, I knew there was no such thing as a portal to another world. Now I know that if you open the right door at the right time, you might finally find a place where you belong. Why does that mean I can’t go back?”

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.

…The Characters

“Her parents loved her, there was no question of that, but their love was the sort that filled her suitcase with colours and kept trying to set her up on dates with local boys. Their love wanted to fix her, and refused to see that she wasn’t broken.”

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.

“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 is you.”

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.

…The Setting

“For us, 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.”

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.

44 thoughts on “Every Heart a Doorway

    1. It’s an amazing book Stephanie. I’d seen some amazing reviews before picking it up myself but now I’ve read it I can safely say they were all so well deserved!
      I hope you enjoy it when you pick it up, and a never ending TBR list is just another of the perils of being a book blogger! 😀


    1. Yeah it’s an amazing book, and I’m so glad I picked it up as well! I completely agree because stories always seem to end as a happily ever after when the character gets home, but it was nice to see in this one that in some cases it isn’t happily ever after at all.
      Thanks Lauren! 😀


  1. I really want to read this book! I read another review of it a while back and was so struck by the idea of it because in truth we all used to wish we would open a door and find ourselves in another world like Narnia or any number of other fictional places. I remember how I used to always feel sad at the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when they went back through the Wardrobe and found themselves young and in the real world again. So, I like how this about characters who found their way into another world only to be tossed back out and have to deal with that change. I’m definitely going to have to get my hands on this soon. Great review, Beth! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is an amazing book, and I think you’ll really enjoy it as well Melissa. It definitely has that sense of magic and wonder of being able to open a door and be transported to a new world but offers a slightly darker twist on the children who come back again. I remember feeling the same at the end of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe as well. I wish they could have stayed in Narnia forever. I know I would have been disappointed to find myself back in the real world again after all the amazing adventure they had there.
      This book is very much character focused but honestly it’s a brilliant read so I’d recommend picking it up as soon as you have a chance.
      Thanks Melissa! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. WP glitch strikes again! For some weird reason this didn’t pop up in my notifications. 😖
        It definitely sounds like something I’ll love. I might break my whole no books until after Christmas ban and buy it lol.
        I wish they could have too! And then the ending of the second where it’s Peter and Lucy’s last time in Narnia. I cried. It seemed so unfair even if it made sense. I would have too. If there is any fictional world besides Harry Potter that I wish I could visit it’s Narnia.
        I love character focused books so that’s a plus to me.😃
        You’re welcome, Beth! 💕

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s weird, but at least you found it still. I wonder if that’s happened with some of my other comments/replies but who knows.
        I’ve been sticking to my own no books until Christmas a lot better this month, so far I’ve only brought two which is a major cut back for me.
        I know what you mean, it kind of sucks because they grew up once in Narnia but when they grow up in the real world that’s when they couldn’t come back?! I would have just tried to stay in Narnia and not go back at all. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m wondering the same thing. I have a feeling it’s happened to some of mine. So far, I’ve only bought one I think. Aside the one I got in my OwlCrate.
        I know right? And I always thought it was a little unfair how they had to grow up all over again. I remember reading something about how they were in Narnia for so long that they forgot about the Wardrobe until they went back through it. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh, well if you count my Fairy Loot box then it’s three. But I went into a bookstore today and was tempted to buy five books so I don’t think it will be long before I’m buying something else! 🙂
        That makes sense I guess, it must have got to the point where it felt like some kind of strange dream and then they fell out of the Wardrobe and it turns out Narnia was the strange dream in a way.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Ah a bookworms curse – wanting to buy all of the books. 😂
        I have a feeling I’m going to be buying a few more myself. I need to make a trip to the used bookstore.
        Yep. I’m thinking about rewatching the movies now. I’m feeling major nostalgia for Narnia and I don’t own the books. 🙈

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I do want to buy all the books, and honestly I probably will but not until I’m off my book buying ban again at the end of this year, not long to go I guess.
        I’m feeling an urge to read the books, and I have no idea where my copies are, may have to do a search for them at some point!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this review! Like we’ve talked about before, this book is on my TBR but I actually didn’t really know what it was about until I read your summary and what you said about the characters. I feel like this is perhaps one of those times when magical realism would work for me, and I’m more keen to get into it now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s all right, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one either but plenty of people told me it was amazing so I had high hopes. 🙂
      Actually yeah I’d say this book was a good introduction to magical realism. Especially if you haven’t read any others that have worked for you. I hope you enjoy this book Reg! 😀


      1. Ah awesome! I was thinking about trying to create some star ratings, and yours are similar to what I had in mind (not exactly the same though – don’t want to copy!). They’re so cute! 🙂 Yeah, I became pretty efficient at photoshop while working on my uni newspaper, but I don’t know if I’ll have lost all those skills now since I haven’t practiced in ages!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, and yeah if I could do it anyone can. It’s easy to create and make your own as well, even if you just change the colour slightly, as long as you’re happy with them because they’ll be going on your blog and all! 🙂
        I hadn’t practising in ages either but it’s easy to pick up after a while. Just spend a little time playing around with the layers and tools. You’ll probably be surprised how much you do remember in the end. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful review Beth! I just hauled Every Heart A Doorway in October & am really looking forward to squeezing it in my TBR. I was the kid who always wondered what happened to Alice once she returned as well as the kids from Narnia. It def can’t be an easy transition to go from the fantastical to the regular mundanish world. I love that Nancy is asexual, this character alone was a key factor in my purchase of this book. Glad to see you enjoy it 😃💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lilly. In that case I hope you enjoy it, it’s a short read so hopefully you’ll be able to squeeze it in somewhere soon! 🙂
      I never wondered that when I was a child but after reading this book I’m starting to. No it can’t be easy coming back from a fantastical world like that but I think that’s what this book did such a good job of representing, the blind hope and the fact that everyone at the school believed they would be able to return one day.
      She’s a great character, and I loved the way her asexuality was handled and represented. Thanks! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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