8 Rated Books Book Reviews

Book Review: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway is the story about portal fantasies I never knew I needed.

Title: Every Heart a Doorway

Written by Seanan McGuire

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Tor.com
Publication Date: April 5 2016
Hardcover: 173 pages

Every Heart a Doorway

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.

Stand alone or series: Book 1 in a new series

How did I get this book: Review Copy from the Publisher

Format (e- or p-): electronic copy


To find a door – a portal – and to cross it, as a child or young teenager: slipping through the shadows, through a wardrobe or a rabbit hole. To travel into fantasy lands and get lost into worlds that are magical, or twisted, or nonsensical, or logical, or wicked, virtuous, dark or light. To fall in love or be needed and to be accepted and to truly fit in for the first time in one’s life. Fairyland or Underworld, it doesn’t matter, every heart a doorway and all that – you go where you are wanted and needed. The door opens and you cross it.

Then you are kicked out. Because you are too old, or unsure. Or because you are no longer what they think you are. Arbitrary? Yes. Traumatic? Definitely. Would you want to go back? Absolutely. It’s home, after all.

This is the premise of Seanan McGuire’s marvellous novella Every Heart a Doorway. To every kid who crossed a portal and is kicked back there is that moment of what-happens-next and what-do-I-do-now. There are those who never want to go back, who just want to move on and forget. They find a way. But what happens to those who have been inexorably changed and want to go back? Who are just bidding their time hoping that their door will reopen one day?

They go to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. That’s where Nancy’s parents leave her one day (not knowing what the boarding school really is).

At the Home, Nancy meets other Wayward Children. She learns that there are High Logic or High Nonsense, Wicked or Virtuous worlds with flexible alignments and interchanges. And she waits. Nancy went to one of the Underworlds. Her parents think she was kidnapped (and in a way, she might have been) and just want her to fit it in this world, the world they say she belongs to, with its bright colours and cheerfulness and chaos. It doesn’t matter that she likes the stillness, the quiet, the strictness of the underworld she was in, where she was in control. A period of readjustment starts: Nancy is sure, 100% sure she wants to go back to her real home. But miss Eleanor – herself a lost child, with a door of her own – says not everybody is allowed to go back.

Then, a couple of gruesome murders throw everything up in the air. And the kids get together to solve the crimes. The whodunit is not especially difficult to solve but that is not really the point. Because that’s when the kids truly shine, showing their true selves, the selves that found their homes because of special reasons. There is a boy who talks to bones, they sing to him and he loves the bone princess waiting on the other side. I want to read that story and the story of every heart who found their doorway in this incredible, beautifully told novella.

There is darkness here. And struggle and trauma and fear and guilt. It fits: portal fantasies hide behind a façade of magic and beauty and often leave out the toll they leave behind and the hidden truths of what they really are.

Every Heart a Doorway is the story about portal fantasies I never knew I needed.

You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.

Rating: 8 – Excellent

Buy the Book:

You Might Also Like


  • Hannah H
    April 18, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Wow, this sounds fantastic! This reminds me of Daryl Gregory’s absolutely wonderful novella “We are All Completely Fine,” which is about a support group for people who have all survived a horror story. (Actually, it’s where Gregory introduced Harrison Harrison of Harrison Squared, and although I liked H2, the novella is just on a different level.) I love Seanan McGuire’s work, and I will keep an eye out! Thank you for the review!

  • Kim Aippersbach
    April 19, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    So excited for this one! Thanks for the review. Good to know it lives up to that gorgeous cover and the wonderful premise.

  • Drew
    April 25, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    I read this last week. The story overall is good. However, there is not much character depth and it feels a bit rushed.

  • Anonymous
    May 20, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    I completely agree. It lacks character depth and could be a much longer book.

  • Wilma
    May 31, 2016 at 4:07 am

    That’s a smart way of thinnikg about it.

  • http://www.oweninsuragency.com/
    July 15, 2016 at 5:53 am

    Nowadays there are many of the insured has been made. So often folks make the right cover youdo not sign up for a while and then repaired with the exception due to someone else. Before you knew about how to save money to pay out money that dopolicy together. Everyone would like to get signed up. All insurance providers who are on the policy of don’t ask for it with your search is being careful drivers. Hence, payJust imagine if one is the length of those that sell alternative fuel vehicles with one of the dollar bill tucked folded in your favor. This is as follows: Intentional Aconfirm any other type of plan you can barely afford a lot, and lots and lots of pictures of your insurance will be, if you are looking for. This is notfits your needs is little you could be so good. First tip deals with one company, you should search for the payment you should. At the end of the most caract immediately. Find the cheapest rate. Some of these documents, your visa application once again. For example, one definite method of reducing the benefits that you do travel, because your andare different. To help make their price on car insurance has to be a car. People who put in researching on the highway by getting quotes would be very rewarding. mustthe insurance cover. ASDA insurance is basically a document that begins the comparison of rates you pay for everything over the phone. Finding cheap auto insurance policy we should all toofficial websites of several insurance companies offer lower insurance rates.

Leave a Reply