Every Heart a Doorway

Author: Seanan McGuire

Read: January 2018


I usually go for long books. I like to get as much out of a story as I possibly can, which is why I read a lot of series. But the books in this series are so short! And each book is different when it comes to the worlds and the characters.

I loved this book and this story. It’s short, only 169 pages, and to the point, but I never got the feeling that I was missing part of the story. It just leaves you wanting more. McGuire writes so beautifully and it just feels really honest. Everything feels like it means something and there’s not a lot of room for extra detail and fluff, but it just feels right.

Every Heart a Doorway is about a home for children who have traveled through doorways to other worlds and had to come back to this world. The kids don’t think of this world as home anymore; they were forced to come back and are all struggling with missing their worlds. New to the school is Nancy, who has recently returned to this world from the Halls of the Dead, an Underworld. Finding it difficult to adjust to being back, she was sent to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

She was tall and willowy and couldn’t have been more than seventeen; there was still something of the unformed around her eyes and mouth, leaving her a work in progress, meant to be finished by time.

Every Heart a Doorway, p. 16

At the school she meets more children who have traveled through doorways. Her roommate, Sumi, came from a  Nonsense world. She meets and becomes friends with Kade, a traveler from Fairyland. Twin sisters Jack and Jill are travelers from another Underworld and befriended Nancy as well.

Almost as soon as Nancy arrives, there’s a murder and people assume it was Nancy. Aside from being the new girl, she is now thought of to be a murderer by many of her schoolmates. Soon more murders occur and the students are panicking and nobody knows who’s to blame.

McGuire has a way of writing characters. It’s amazing, really, since this book is so short. I really loved all of them. Since this story takes place at a school, there are plenty of side characters and they get a little screen-time throughout the book. You also get to see glimpses of all the different worlds.

I was so into this story and felt the pain of these characters. They’re just children and missing their home worlds. Some still have hope that they’ll find another door to take them back, and some are trying to find a way to live in this world knowing they’ll never go back. They’re angry, hurting, longing for home.

I loved the book for everything. The writing, the characters and even the murder mystery plot line. Though I found that it wasn’t too difficult to discover the murderer since you’re given a lot of clues that point to one person. As a reader you’re given a full cast of characters in the beginning. They could all be a possible suspect, yet whenever a clue arises it seems to point directly at a specific person every time. I thought that was the point so that when you find out it actually isn’t the person you’ve been suspecting, you’d be surprised. But that’s not really the case here. I was still proud of myself for figuring out who the murderer was before the final reveal. I couldn’t figure out the reason why they were doing it though and that was a reason why I doubted my suspicions.

This book is also an #OwnVoices novel since it features an asexual main character. There’s a ton of diversity throughout this novel with gender, race, and sexuality. I had never read a book with ace representation before this novel. Soon after arriving at the school, Nancy tells Sumi that she’s ace and it’s very clearly explained what that means. If I hadn’t known what asexuality was, this book would have written it out perfectly without trying to shove it in my face. I liked reading it and knowing that the author had experience dealing with this kind of situation and I liked being able to understand the main character better because of the explanation. You’re not left questioning what ace is and I liked that it was casual but clear.

At this point, I have already read the following book in the series. It’s not actually a sequel. It’s more of a companion novel since it’s a prequel, but it isn’t about Nancy. But after reading Every Heart a Doorway, I was excited to read more from Seanan McGuire. Just this small book left me wanting so much more. Read it. It’s good.

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