EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire – Review

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire – ReviewEvery Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Series: Every Heart a Doorway #1
Published by Tor.com on April 5 2016
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 160
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

The nitty-gritty: A heartbreakingly sad but wonderfully magical tale about growing up.

What she wanted most didn’t need to be spoken, for they shared her hunger, her brutal, unforgiving desire: what she wanted most was a door, and the things that waited on its other side. But unlike the rest of them, she knew where her door was. It was simply closed to her for the time being, until she could find her way back to childhood.

What an odd and magical story this was! I’ve only read one other Seanan McGuire story, but from what I understand, she seems to be one of those authors who reinvents herself with each story she writes. Every Heart a Doorway can be read on several levels, and only writers with great skill are able to pull that off successfully, in my opinion. McGuire does so brilliantly, giving us a magical yet menacing tale of a group of teens who have been sent to a special school in order to deal with a very unusual loss, a tale that quickly becomes a murder mystery. But dig deeper and this story is about growing up and leaving childhood behind. For such a short novella, McGuire gives her readers everything they could want: a fascinating premise for a story, a tantalizing mystery, and even hard-hitting emotional content.

The story revolves around Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, a school where children and teens who have found a secret doorway to another world and then been cast out of that world can come to be rehabilitated. Each student has spent time—often years—in one of many worlds, and all of them are trying to find the doorway that will lead them back. In the meantime, they live with Eleanor and attend daily counseling sessions where they are told they many never find their doorway again, and so they must face the facts and try to become “normal.”

Nancy is newly arrived at the home, having recently left the Halls of the Dead (against her will) where she spent time with the Lord of the Dead and drank pomegranate juice and learned how to be as still as a statue. Now Nancy wants nothing more than to go back, but first she must deal with the other kids at the school and adapt to the harsh light and bright colors, both of which were absent in the Halls of the Dead. She meets her roommate Sumi, a colorful girl who came from a world full of rainbows, and she soon bonds with a mysterious boy named Kade who used to be a girl.

But the dreary sameness of the school is interrupted when one of the students is found brutally murdered, and it isn’t long after that the murderer strikes again. Soon the students realize that no one is safe, and it becomes a race for their lives to catch the killer before someone else is sacrificed.

One reason I loved this story so much is that it reminded me of my own childhood. Yep, I was one of those weird kids who believed in fairies and witches and vampires, and I was absolutely certain that magic was real. I’m quite sure I spent a great deal of time trying to find my own doorway to another world! There was such a wonderful feeling of nostalgia to Every Heart a Doorway, and I imagine that even if you weren’t the sort of child who believed in fairies, this story will evoke emotions that you haven’t thought of in a long time. But even though I loved revisiting my own memories of childhood, what I wasn’t prepared for was how sad this story was. The kids in this story are devastated that they’ve left their worlds, and they want nothing more than to find their personal doorway that will lead them back to that place where they belonged. It was heartbreaking and lovely, and I don’t know whether to curse McGuire or applaud her for making me feel so much.

So is this just a story of some messed up teens who have had some strange adventures, and now they are having trouble assimilating back into the real world? Or is it more, an allegory for growing up and saying goodbye to childhood? I like to think that each reader will get something different from it. I do know that the ending couldn’t have been more perfect, and knowing that there are two more novellas to follow, I’m extremely curious to see where McGuire will take us next.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Above quote was taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book.

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Posted March 31, 2016 by Tammy in 5 stars, Reviews / 9 Comments


9 responses to “EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire – Review

  1. You’re perfectly right when you say that Seanan McGuire re-invents herself with each new book: her October Daye series is pure UF with dramatic overtones, while the Incryptid series is more geared toward humor (though it does not lack for drama). And when she writes as Mira Grant she can freeze the blood in your veins… This book sounds like she’s found another expressive avenue, and I more than look forward to reading it.
    Great review, thanks for sharing!
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    • Tammy

      This sounds very different from her October Day series, which I haven’t read. But you’re right about Mira Grant, her alter ego is so different from Seanan McGuire!

  2. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to check this one out soon! I confess, her Mira Grant books are hit or miss from me, and I’ve only read one other book by her under her Seanan McGuire name which is the first book of October Daye, and it was pretty standard UF fare. If this is a “reinvention” of her work though, it could be good news for me! I like to keep trying the same authors even if they change styles 🙂
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    • Tammy

      This was completely different from Rolling in the Deep, as though it had been written by a different person. I’m amazed when authors can write like that:-)

  3. I don’t think I’ve seen a single person give this book less than four stars, which is amazing since I know some people aren’t a fan of McGuire’s writing style (although I personally love it). It may not be particularly subtle, but I also love the sound of that doorway metaphor. Some really deep topics for a ~150 page novella. I’ve got to get my hands on this one!
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  4. oh.. i want… yes teh fact it’s sad ( because i’m sure i will be crying) is making me hesitate about teh right time for me to read it but i so want to read it anyway^^
    Seanabn Mcguire always surprises me so i definitively want to try this one
    thank you for this wonderful review
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  5. Autumn

    Great review! I love coming of age /growing up novels. And since this one has magic involved it sounds right up my alley.