Series: Wayward Children #1
Author: Seanan McGuire
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor.com; April 5, 2016
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Synopsis from Goodreads...
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.
Lately, I’ve been reading some of the backlist titles that have been on my TBR list for a while, and Every Heart A Doorway was one of them. Portal fantasy is one of my favorite fantasy elements ever—stories like Coraline and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman, and Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova—so Every Heart A Doorway was right up my alley. The story wasted none of its 173 pages, and by far, my favorite part was the very concept at the center of the novella: children returning from different fantasy worlds, and after going on such fantastical adventures (and often wanting to go back to the worlds that cast them out) a school that takes them in while they try to readjust to the people and the lives they left behind.
There were a lot of aspects about the novella that I absolutely loved. Such as the themes explored in the story and the setting, Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. The introduction of the school not only introduced Eleanor West, it also set up the some of the basic rules about the Home for Wayward Children and magic that would later play a bigger role in the story. It turned out to be one of my favorite story beginnings that I’ve read so far this year. The characters were a unique bunch, and while some of their worlds could be called similar in some small way (in terms of the classifications used in the story), the traits that made them interesting were distinctive. Those traits were often shaped by the worlds they’d visited (and called home), for example Nancy and her “stillness.” There were a lot of different worlds needed to fill the story, and the ones that were talked about were unique and interesting. I almost wished those worlds would have appeared on the page (which is one of the reasons why I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series).
All in all, Every Heart A Doorway was as excellent a read as it was the beginning of a series. The ending, while a satisfying conclusion to some points (and for some characters) in the story, it still left the door open for more. I’m looking forward to getting caught up with the series before Come Tumbling Down is released in 2020.
Have you read any of the Wayward Children series?