Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Posted On 24 March 2016

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 21 responses

EHADEvery Heart a Doorway is a really touching story that, considering it’s only a fairly short read, manages to pack a real punch and deliver an intriguing plot, a multitude of hidden worlds and a look at important issues such as identity and fitting in.  I think this will affect readers in different ways.  I certainly think it will speak to some readers in an emotional way whilst others will be able to read a captivating fairytale that turns dark and menacing as the story progresses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story in fact it felt like I’d momentarily found my own doorway to something different and having returned, like the characters in the story, I want to go back for more.

The story takes place in a school and I confess that I’m ever the sucker for a school setting.  Miss Eleanor’s Home for Wayward Children is actually a home for children who are different.  Each of them has found their own special place, reached through a doorway that can lead to an Underworld, a world of chaos, rainbows and unicorns or even a spider world.  Some of them have spent years in their own special world although it may only be days or weeks in our world but having returned most of them are now unable to find that magical portal again.  They were misfits before they found their own promised land and they’re misfits when they return and Miss Eleanor takes these children into her care.  She understands their unhappiness because she has herself also passed through a portal.

Appropriately named, every heart literally can be a doorway.

At the start of the story Nancy has returned from her own special world.  Hers was an underworld, home of the dead and the King of the realm paid special attention to Nancy gifting her hair with a white streak when he ran his fingers through her tresses. She desperately wants to return to the quiet and the stillness, the shadows and the dark but like the other inhabitants of the school she can no longer conjure an entrance.  For the most part the school is a rather sad place as each of the students come to terms with their loss and begins to realise they may never return.  However, it’s never been considered a dangerous place until the first student is found murdered in a quite horrific way.  Now the school faces the possibility of closure but more than that all the students are potentially in great danger themselves.

Like I said above.  There is such a lot to take from this book.  There’s the story that I’ve briefly outlined above which is wonderfully written and totally intriguing and of course there’s a murder mystery to be solved.  But, much more than that the story takes a look at those people that never quite fit in.  Unlike their peers they stand out at best and are open to ridicule at worst and unfortunately enrolling in a school of people with similar difficulties and experiences is far from a protection against prejudice and bullying!  Even at Eleanor’s home there are cliques.  It turns out that if your little slice of paradise was a little more dark or foreboding then you’re not welcome even with the other students who are considered misfits by the majority of the waking world.

This is a very touching story in respect of the more thought provoking aspects.  It takes a look at issues such as anorexia and mental illness and the struggle that children and young adults have not only in transitioning to adulthood but also becoming comfortable with themselves and their own sexuality.  I must stress though that this is very gently done, it’s not overtly a message about any of these issues but they’re all intrinsic to the story.

I thought this was a wonderful little nugget.  It’s well written, very easy to engage with and is a book that will please readers in different ways.

In terms of criticisms – I have none for the book itself, just that the story came to a conclusion all too suddenly and I wanted more.

I received a copy courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




21 Responses to “Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire”

  1. Tammy

    I’ll be reading this very soon too, glad you enjoyed it! I also love school settings and this book sounds like a very different take on that.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I do love school settings – I blame J K Rowling! I really enjoyed this. I don’t understand though why the author didn’t make it into a full novel – there’s so much scope and I thought it was really quite captivating. I’ll be keen to know what you think – I have some theories of my own about certain aspects and I really wish I could discuss them without spoilers – if you read it DM me and let me know!
      Lynn 😀

  2. Danya @ Fine Print

    I absolutely love Seanan McGuire, her books are so well-written and original. I’m very intrigued about how the characters grapple and ultimately become more comfortable with their sexualities.Can’t wait to get my hands on this!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I loved this – although I did say I’m a sucker for school settings (for which I blame J K Rowling). My only issue is that I wish it had been longer – it almost felt a tiny bit rushed but that could simply because I wasn’t ready for it to finish. I’d love to know what you make of it in fact there are aspects that I’m mulling over even now so if you pick up a copy DM me so we can discuss – I don’t want to leave spoilers here.
      Lynn 😀

  3. DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape)

    I’m a major sucker for school setting stories too, and like how each of these doorways leads to them having their own special place. Mine would lead to a sunny beach, with clear water and white sand, and, mostly importantly, where student loans do NOT exist XD

    • @lynnsbooks

      Mine would lead to a balcony, overlooking an old world medieval type town with a library at my back and a glass of wine in my hand! *all good things*

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I’m waiting to read this with a good deal of expectation, being a die-hard McGuire fan: your review just told me she’s reached deeper into our imagination and our feelings, crafting something truly special. Thank you for a very thoughtful review!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, I figured you were a die-hard and I can’t wait to see your views on this one. I was, in a way, disappointed that it was only a short story – I really do think this could have been expanded upon and if anything the ending could definitely have been drawn out a little. It’s very thought provoking and I look forward to your review of this knowing how much you already like SMcG’s work. I couldn’t put certain things in the review for fear of spoilers but when you’re reading send me a DM on twitter – I need to discuss things!!
      Lynn 😀

  5. Ashley M.

    This sounds amazing! Great review! Another book to add to my never ending TBR!

    • @lynnsbooks

      These TBRs will one day topple over and smother us – in retaliation of course!
      Lynn 😀

  6. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    hmmm… I’ve been unsure about this one. I may give it a try.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’ve just kind of got into Seanan McGuire with the Toby Daye series and I really liked the sound of this. If anything – it was too short. I think you would like the alternative version of things going on here – and I don’t mean the strange other worlds (although I’m sure you’d enjoy that aspect). I just think you would like the thought provoking part of this story and interpreting what is really being brought out in the story. I found it a really clever story.
      Lynn 😀

  7. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I’ve not had a lot of good luck with McGuire’s work but then again I’ve only ever read a handful of her books, including the first of her October Daye series and a bunch of stuff which she wrote under Mira Grant. This sounds sufficiently different enough from all of that though, that I’d want to check it out to see how I will like it. I did have it on my to-be-considered list out of the Tor.com list of novellas!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I didn’t know how I would get on with the Toby Daye series but I think reading it as a group read has kind of sucked me in easier than I expected. My only other experience with SMcG was Feed – I didn’t really like that one but I think I was in the minority as it seemed well received. I enjoyed this and thought it was a really curious little novel with some interesting themes. I actually thought it was a shame this wasn’t a little longer if anything.
      Lynn 😀

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