Title: Every Heart A Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire (Twitter)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Genre/Category: Fantasy, Multiverses, Alternate Worlds, Mysteries, Murder
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Every Heart A Doorway is the book of my dreams. I am so glad that my local library offers it for us to take out on Overdrive because it showed up in my “Recommended” list and I nearly screamed as I rushed to check it out.
Set in Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children (a school for children with a very particular set of experiences), Every Heart A Doorway revolves around the events that occur after a young woman named Nancy arrives at the school following her return to her primary world following years in an Underworld. I don’t want to spoil too much of the book because it’s something y’all need to experience for yourselves, but I just want to talk a bit about some of the things I experienced while going through this book.
Now I’ve been reading a lot of Tor.Com books and loving basically every one I’ve read. For the same reasons that I enjoyed Runtime and Pride’s Spell, this Seanan McGuire book stands out for me. The worldbuilding – or world(s)building as the world we see is only one that exists since all of the characters in the book came through their doorway leading to a specific world – is vivid and captivating. The characters are immediately fleshed out to a point where you can almost imagine meeting them at the library or meeting up with them in the school’s hallways.
When the book was first released, I put it on my terribly long “To Read” list. I love Seanan McGuire’s work and I have ever since I picked up the first October Daye e-book. Part of why I enjoy her writing so much is because she makes an effort at creating inclusive and diverse worlds with characters to match. (And she tends to be really good at it.)
And I’m going to be honest, as someone whose identity sits on the ace-spectrum, seeing a review that mentioned Nancy identifying as asexual (but not aromantic) made my day. Actually reading the book and seeing the line?
I teared up a bit.
Also: Kade, a transboy character who wound up in a Goblin world after passing through his doorway, is basically my favorite. I love him.
Another thing that really made me happy about Every Heart a Doorway is that the school’s proprietor Eleanor West is open about not letting ableism or cissexism slide in her school. She has an interest in protecting the physical, emotional, and mental health of her students and that means standing up for them even from their peers.
My one problem with the book (and it’s both a small problem and a personal one) was that I figured out that [spoiler character] was the [spoiler noun] in chapter five at just under the halfway point. Now that didn’t make the book less enjoyable for me especially because I only knew the “what” and not the “why” behind the actions undertaken, but it was a little dissatisfying because usually, I don’t guess correctly in whodunits.
I mean seriously, I spent like two-thirds of my first viewing of Crimson Peak thinking that the Sharpe siblings were vampires. And if you saw that movie, you know how wrong I was. I’m just not good at putting clues together. So it was just a little weird for me to read this book and go “wow, [person] [did the thing]” and then be right about it.
But that ridiculously tiny thing aside (that again, is because I’m silly), this is a great book. I’m talking 5-stars here. I didn’t cry at the end, but I definitely closed my kindle while feeling all of the goopy feelings here. I hope that we’ll get more books in this universe because I need to know what happens next with Nancy, Kade, and the other Wayward Children.
But if we don’t? I’m still happy because this was a perfect look at an imperfect series of worlds that definitely didn’t end in a way that I expected.