book review, fantasy, young adult

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Ever wondered what happened to the children when they returned from their epic adventures in fantasy lands? They went to boarding school, of course. Eleanor West’s school for wayward children, to be exact.

Nancy has returned from the Halls of the Dead, but she can’t fit into her old life with all its heat and colour and movement. Concerned for her, her parents send her to Miss West’s school to help her adjust to the loss of her portal world.

All the children in Eleanor’s school want to find the door back to their other world, but until they do, they study maths and English and have daily group therapy. Normal routines are disrupted when the students start turning up dead and mutilated, but Nancy and her new friends will find the culprit.

I loved the concept for this book. Portal fantasy is such a mainstay of children’s books, and it’s always bothered me how the kids adjust to boring old normal life after they’ve been through some major life and death struggles.

I also really liked how the author equated traveling to other worlds with those different souls who just don’t fit into this one. As I’ve always been different myself, and wondered if I belonged somewhere else, I could relate.

Unfortunately, the author didn’t capture the magic of portal travel that I longed for. Instead, these children are obsessed with sex and letting each other know all about it. Each one seemed to have been about to marry a much older king or queen in the country they left behind, and, while I’m sure that it wasn’t intentional, it screamed of grooming and child abuse to me.

My overall impression of the characters was that they were broken, abused victims who couldn’t get back to their abusers, but who no longer fitted into their old life either. I found it incredibly depressing.

As far as the murder plot went, there was no mystery and the behavior of the characters broke my willing suspension of disbelief.

Because of the concept and the themes, I award Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway is available for $8.13 ebook and $17.99 print book on Amazon.


Read my review of Seanan McGuire’s (under the pen name Mira Grant) horror novel, Feed.

6 thoughts on “Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire”

  1. I read your blog frequently but since I’m not a big reader of the horror genre I don’t often comment. This book does sound like a great concept. I have been following for a bit and I do wonder, have you ever given a 5 dog rating? Just curious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Herb, I appreciate you following 😊
      Yes, I do! Most recently was 5th August for The Encampment by the Gorge and Blood Memory by Zachary Ashford. Because I’m down a dog and using a temporary rating system, I think it’s easy to miss that 4 dogs + a (cat or parrot) = 5 dogs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the concept, and it’s a good question – how the kids cope with life after the other world. But it does sound a bit depressing, and it does seem an allegory for coping with abuse. I hope the story has some ideas how and lots of hope!

    Liked by 1 person

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