Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Published: April 5, 2016
Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. Receipt of a review copy does not guarantee a review, or have any bearing on the review if one is posted. I only reviews book that I recommend, and that are within the particular scope of the blog.
Click for more details: What the Ratings Mean.
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 things.
No matter the cost.
Characterization and badassery
Seanan McGuire has created some unique and fascinating characters in Every Heart a Doorway. The worldbuild is intriguing. Imagine that our own modern world has many Alice-In-Wonderland type portals, and that some people find their way to them. On the other side is a myriad of different worlds. For one reason or another, some of those travelers get spit back out into this world, when all they want is to go back.
There are a variety of characters, all fleshed out and interesting in their own way. They all have a certain perseverance that is admirable.
Plot and pacing
Being a novella, this book stays right with the action of the story. The plot is unclear at first, but turns into a murder mystery. A little simplistic, but it keeps the action moving forward and centralized in this home for returning visitors of other worlds. Being simplistic is probably a good thing, because if it were more complex, there would have been no way to cover all the bases within the given amount of space.
Prose and editing
A touch less on both counts than I’d expected from Tor, though it was an ARC copy, and there may well have been more edits to be done before the official release. Still quite good, since my expectations from a trade publisher like Tor are sky-high.
Not really. It’s all pretty grim, in an interesting macabre sort of way. This definitely isn’t for those who don’t appreciate dark imagery.
“’Wait!’ Nancy hadn’t intended to speak; the word had simply escaped her lips, like a runaway calf. The thought horrified her. Her stillness was eroding, and if she stayed in this dreadful, motile world too long, she would never be able to get it back again.”
I’m not a big Alice in Wonderland fan. You really don’t have to be, in order to appreciate the out-of-the-box thinking behind this story. I particularly like the juxtaposition of dreamy scenes of rainbows and fairy wings against dark imagery like blood and morbidity. It’s all done in a modern-world approach that’s just right. It would have been easy to make the teenagers snarky and obnoxious, but Seanan McGuire masterfully avoided that trap. It’s a quick read, but a good one.