Review – Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway
Every Heart a Doorway

A minor segue

I’m not a entirely sure why I searched out Every Heart a Doorway on the elibrary Libby and put a hold on a copy.  The likely answer is I either read a great recommendation or the premise sounded intriguing. And you’ve got to admit the title is really good. Anyway, intriguing or not, I hadn’t read it when it first became available.  Having missed my chance I had to wait an additional 3 months to get my ears on a copy.  To avoid another wait period, I made sure that I clicked on borrow shortly after receiving the book available notification

October 2023 saw me pick up a book I couldn’t quite remember the context of why I wanted to read it, but I put faith in the idea that it must be something that I would be relatively interested in. I read Every Heart a Doorway mainly over two Saturday mornings during chores and that in retrospect was a great idea. I opened it up 7 times and read it in over 5 hours.

The Snapshot

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.

My thoughts on Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway was too short to make it really interesting for me. Whilst too short, there was also way too much introspection and exposition. I know we are world building but all the worlds began to roll into one giant ‘let’s all be different and intriguing’ because we as students are dissimilar and intriguing. 

I get it, no one wants to be a faceless person in a crowd.

Some want to stand out and be known; unique and different to everyone else.    Every Heart a Doorway is the culmination of that belief. These teens all want to be special, they believe it and act like it. My take is, it goes without saying: we are different, worthwhile and don’t have to prove it. I do realise that my opinion comes from the place of an adult who has already navigated the perils of teenage angst.

What’s it like to live in another world?

 A year for me, 12 days for them. And they said I’d clearly been through some trauma and couldn’t be trusted. They sent me here so I could stop being crazy.  But there’s nothing wrong with me.  I went on a journey that’s all. 

Nancy on her parents

These teens believed they had found their perfect place where they could truly be themselves but unfortunately it was a temporary visit and not their forever home.  The desperation to return, knowing the odds were unlikely is interesting to me as a adult because many of these worlds sounded hellish.  The children didn’t want to be back here (in the ‘real’ world)  and be the person they were before they experienced life behind a  door. Our protagonists want, need to be the people they are now.  Desperately holding on to that magical experience, there’s no way they are intentionally giving up on that.  To forget the adventure they’d been on is unacceptable.   Obviously this is in conflict with their parents who for the most part believed they were abducted.  want to recreate the time and relationship before they disappeared.

 Their love wanted to fix her and refused to see that she wasn’t broken.

Nancy on her parents

The attitudes of these teen made me think of the idea that you have one shot at greatness and if you miss it, fail to hold onto it, mediocre is your future.

That isn’t the case.

It’s around 40% that we get into the mystery

We rehash parent child relationships, trust, acceptance, individualism,  gender, finding your place in the world.

So it’s over! How did that happen?

All of a sudden the book began to speed up and everything happened all at once.  Mystery solved and some received their hearts desire

Sometimes this is the thing (for me) with listening to an audiobook, you can’t gauge the length of a story because you don’t have the book in your hand and can’t see the total number of pages and how many pages you have left. My phone is either in a pocket or somewhere and I’m generally not looking at it much when I’m listening to a book.

In the back of my mind, I vaguely remembered that the duration was 5 hours.  Yet when I picked it up on the second day around 70%, I was surprised to think here we are – 70! – and it’s going to end soon and I still don’t know what’s happening. Worse yet, do I even care.  I think the pacing is an issue towards the end.  It does feel rushed.

Of course there’s a sequel

For those inclined in finding out more about Wayward Children, this isn’t a one and done book.  It wasn’t until I got to the end of the book and started typing up my notes that I realised this was the first in a series which is currently up to book 8.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the premise of Every Heart a Doorway, but …

Given the fact that I returned this book 14 days early and didn’t gel with the characters, I’m in no rush to read any more in this world which is at odds with the dedicated following of this series.  That is a shame, because a world where you can access alternative versions through doors is cool. Just didn’t pan out for me. But if this is your bag, the author is prolific: with a book each year which is great when you are desperate to find out what next for your favourite characters.

So be it, I know I’m in the minority

The books so far

  1. Every Heart a Doorway (2016)
  2. Down Among the Sticks and Bones (2017)
  3. Beneath the Sugar Sky (2018)
  4. In an Absent Dream (2019)
  5. Come Tumbling Down (2020)
  6. Across the Green Grass Fields (2021)
  7. Where the Drowned Girls Go (2022)
  8. Lost in the Moment and Found (2023)

Summing up Every Heart a Doorway

It feels like a 2 stars but it’s going to be a 3 Star rating because of the great premise. It reminds me a bit like Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve where all the elements were there for a fantastic ride but it missed the mark and we ended up limping behind a clunky scooter. Both books coincidentally were read in October. Got to keep an eye open to see if this is an annual trend.

Every Heart a Doorway is inoffensive, interesting but nothing special.  Ideal for having on in the background while you’re doing mundane tasks.

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Engrossed Reader

Reading whenever she can, often to the detriment of sleep. Enjoying most genres with preference for ebooks and audiobooks, mainly for convenience.

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