Thursday, March 1, 2018

Book Review: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Tor
Pages: 173
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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.

Wow, wow, wow. There was so much loveliness packed into such a tiny little book. It's funny that last week I reviewed a short book and found it absolutely lacking, and this week I have found a short book that proves amazing things can be accomplished on just a few pages.

Every Heart a Doorway imagines a world in which all of our favorite fantastical lands (and some that haven't even been dreamt up yet) actually exist. Narnia, Hogwarts, Wonderland...they are all real. And there is a boarding school that children who have been to these places can go to in an effort to help them re-assimilate back into our society.

First of all, this is an awesome idea for a book. Period. But man, the way that Seanan McGuire handles this world is absolutely amazing. She doesn't make use of fantasy worlds that we already know of (Narnia, the Shire, etc.), but she creates her own worlds that are unique to every single child at the school. Dark worlds full of death and morbidity, worlds full of knights and ladies, oddball lands where up is left and down is sideways. AND, there is a system by which all fantastical worlds are organized and classified. It is so cool. Truly engrossing and a testament to the imagination of this author.

As if the amazing world wasn't enough, there is so much else that is packed into these pages. There are explorations of darkness and light, children learning how to deal with loss and love (and loving themselves), diversity of race, gender identity, age, sexuality, and mental health, and the age-old question of finding a sense of belonging.

This book is 173 pages long and I feel that it can teach a reader more than many huge tomes have to offer. In just a few pages, you can find believable characters that you can immediately connect with (because seriously, how many of us have wished and hoped and prayed that we could escape to another world?), fantasy, adventure, and a reminder of why home is really is where your heart is.