Monday, December 4, 2017

Every Heart a Doorway ~ Seanan McGuire review [@torbooks]

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1)
April 05, 2016
173 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

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

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.

"Call it irony, if you like, but we spend so much time waiting for our boys to stray that they never have the opportunity. We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women."  (pg 59)

Every Heart a Doorway is a brilliant fantasy tale. I loved that the story focuses on what happens after: after children disappear from their homes, through magical doorways, and spend however long in these magical worlds. After they come home, back to the normal, non-magical world.

It is both unexpected and wonderful that Nancy, Sumi and the others are not thrilled to be back in the real world. They aren't 'rescued' now that they're home, in fact, they want to go back.

Why they left in the first place, where they each went, how they feel about being back (home first, now at Eleanor's school) and their hopes for the future have definite similarities but it's the amazing differences that make the story such fun. Sumi is so very different from Nancy who's so very different from Jack, etc. and it manages to feel like a school social environment while also involving the Hals of the Dead, mad scientists, vampires, skeletons, and the Countess of Candy Floss. It is both fantastically magical and wonderfully realistic.

I both adored and appreciated the diversity of Every Heart a Doorway's characters. When why they were at the school/home was factored in, their eccentricities, their identities (however you want to interpret the word), really all of who they each were made even more sense. With such a small group of characters, the story was that much better for each of them having a strong personality and for their differences. It also allows you, once something horrible happens, to see how many of those 'differences' don't matter and how similar we all are.

Every Heart a Doorway manages to be great fantasy and a great mystery and have great characters who offer some important, smart, thoughtful insights. Once you read this, you'll want Down Among the Sticks and Bones to start reading right way (Book 3, Beneath the Sugar Sky, is out in January).

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