Book Review: Every Heart a Doorway

Title: Every Heart a Doorway

Author: Seanan McGuire

Format: Hardback

Year Published: 2016

Seanan McGuire was a Guest of Honor at a recent convention I was at*, so I requested a copy of Every Heart a Doorway before I left. (It arrived the *day* I left, but let’s not discuss that unless you want me to rant at you.) I had previously attempted to read Rosemary and Rue, the first of her October Daye books, but, well, it’s a me vs. First Person POV thing and I lost.

Every Heart a Doorway was different. Written in third person, it was also much thinner than I’d expected – I hadn’t realized that it was a novella. I’m a fast reader, but once I started it, I had it finished in a little over an hour (granted, some of that was because I couldn’t put it down).

Obviously, I enjoyed the book.

Every Heart a Doorway is a story about what happens to the children who have gone through and then have returned to our world. It’s centered around Nancy, who has recently returned from the Underworld and the Halls of the Dead. And it’s centered around Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, the place where a former portal child has made a home for those to come after their adventures, to be in a place where they won’t be told they’re crazy or making it all up. A place where they all want, desperately, to remember their trips and to, if possible, return home.

(There is mention of a sister school, which helps those who want to forget. I hope we get a story set there as well.)

The first half of the story is the strongest, as Nancy arrives and begins, impossibly, to settle in. The second half is a murder mystery, but due to the short nature of the novella, it feels very rushed to me (as an avid mystery novel reader). I didn’t predict the murderer, but there are also very few clues to do so with.

The best things about the book are the characters, and the worlds that they came from. I love that Nancy is explicitly stated to be asexual, and that another character is trans. And while it comes up, both are minor plot points. They’re not the Defining Character Trait for these characters, and the point of the story isn’t discovering this about them.

I have hope that there will be another story (or novel, that would be exciting) set in this world. There are so many places that it could go, and so many other stories that could be told. A solid 4/5 pages.


*As a total aside, if you ever have the chance to go see her in a panel, GO. Hysterically funny, insightful, and a genuine pleasure to watch on a panel with other people.

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