Every Heart A Doorway (Wayward Children book 1) by Seanan McGuire (book review)

This is book one of a possible six book series consisting of novellas. Currently this is the only one available, the next one being ‘Down Among The Sticks And Bones’ which will be available in June 2017.

We’ve all read about the children who step from our world into something other. They vanish through magical portals either in the back of a wardrobe, down a rabbit hole or down a path they’ve never seen before but can’t seem to stop following. We’ve gone on to read about their adventures in these amazing other worlds, how strange things happen to them, they become kings and queens or battle talking animals. However, there has never been a story about what happens if and when they make it back to our world, until now. How would it feel to come back to our world from one where lollipops grow on trees, where you can skate on rainbows or where to survive means standing absolutely deathly still? Some of these children might fit right back into our world, others find it really tough. If you’re one of those who is finding life in our world difficult you want to be lucky enough to be sent to Eleanor West’s Home For Wayward Children because she understands like no-one else, oh, and it means we get to read more of these children’s stories.

We follow Nancy, a new girl at the home, who has recently come back from the Halls Of The Dead where she learnt to be silent and still. She loved that land and desperately wants to go back. But we also get to know a handful of the other children living at the home, most of whom get their own novella later in the series. Incidentally, Nancy identifies as asexual, which for her means that she can see people as aesthetically pleasing but has no romantic feelings towards anyone. We also meet Kade, who is a boy dresses as a girl, which caused some confusion for me and also for some fairies. I enjoyed having characters that were diverse within this book it gave them each their own uniqueness along with the different worlds they had visited.

I enjoyed how McGuire explained the different worlds giving them a kind of system including things like Nonsense, Logic, etc. and then they can be further classified as to whether they were High or Low. Some worlds were a combination of different types but they mostly fell into one type or another. This meant that they could then sort out the children and try to help them re-adjust to our world knowing what kind of world they had visited.

I really loved McGuire’s writing style. There was just enough detail for us to understand everything and, given how short this novella is, I find that impressive. You do come away wanting to know more about the different children, so I’m really glad there are further books. But if you felt that this novella is enough, then you can just stop here. I’ve no idea why you would want that, I just wanted more and more.

The pacing and plot along with the characters is brilliant. Just as you start to understand everything and you feel you know the characters, things start to kick off and there’s a terrifying mystery to be solved. Nancy and her new friends have to solve this mystery before more people die or they’re all sent home to cope on their own.

The only thing I’m struggling with is where to put this book in terms of genre and age group. It has magical realism in there along with all out magic, there’s also a murder mystery but very little intervention by adults. However, there is also talk of masturbation and vibrators, so it’s not suitable for anyone under about 16. Plus the murders are particularly gruesome so they aren’t really suitable for the younger reader. I guess I’ll just have to put it into a new category of books I’m completely in love with and will recommend to everyone I meet.

Overall, this is a brilliant book and completely deserves all the hype it has had and I can’t wait to dive into the rest in the series.

Sarah Bruch

April 2017

follow me @shelbycat

(pub: TOR, 2016. 176 page hardback. Price: $17.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-765385-505)

check out websites: www.tor-forge.com and www.seananmcguire.com

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