Author: Seanan McGuire
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Rating: ★★★★/ 4 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy, YA, with LGBT+ characters (more in the review)
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
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.
Hope is bad. Hope means you keep on holding to things that won’t ever be so again, and so you bleed an inch at a time until there’s nothing left.
Trigger warning: somewhat detailed gore and murder and transphobia (that’s called out on page).
Every Heart a Doorway is quite the unique book that deals with world-walkers teenagers who are sent by fretting guardians in order for any kind of solution of their “real” kids to come back. This book is a great metaphor for what the characters each represented. And I believe it had quite the great message behind it.
The story is told from the point of view of Nancy, whose door took her to the Underworld. Nancy is perhaps my first ever canonically asexual character to date, which is shameful because I need to read more ace rep. She’s asexual but I believe hetromatic. Anyway, Nancy struggles like the other kids at the boarding school to get a grasp of how much she wants to go back home. Home for her and the rest is where the door led them because the door opens for kids who don’t quite belong and takes them where they do. The concept really intrigued me and felt very original. I liked the bonds Nancy made with other kids.
There was Kade, a transboy who was kicked out of his home because of his gender identity. This personally kind of saddened me but again, it was a clear metaphor of how his own parents sent him to the school, hence kicking him out of his house, wanting their “real” kid back. Kade is first written to be quite strikingly beautiful but not feminized. And Nancy and Kade kind of develop this flirting that Nancy mentions to worry her because she isn’t into getting into more. It’s towards Kade that one other student says a transphobic comment, but Eleanor, the headmistress of the school, explicitly in the beginning of the book has a rule against any hateful talk. Another good point to this book is that Eleanor stops Sumi from saying words like “crazy” which I liked quite a bit.
There are other characters that are introduced such as the twins Jack and Jill, Christopher, Lundy, Eleanor herself has her own backstory and door, as well as Sumi and others. I found the description beautiful and easy to understand although the concept of how the worlds crisscrossed didn’t to me, or to Nancy. Nancy herself was a very lovely character whose voice felt very calming.
My only problem with the book is how it ended. I kind of wished there would be more and that the sequel would deal more with Nancy and the rest of the kids since I got attached. As far as I know, I might read the sequel but I’m not in a hurry. It does deal with Jack and Jill’s past before their doors so that might interest anyone who found the twins particularly intriguing.
Representation of asexual teen, transgender boy, Mexican boy, and a Japanese girl.
About the Author (copied from Goodreads)
Born and raised in Northern California, I fear weather and am remarkably laid-back about rattlesnakes. I watch too many horror movies, read too many comic books, and share my house with two monsters in feline form, Lilly and Alice (Siamese and Maine Coon).