I’ve always had a fascination with portals to magical worlds. There’s a proliferation of children’s stories with children getting whisked away to fairy tale locales – Narnia, The Far-away Tree, Wonderland, Oz, Never-Never Land. In Every Heart A Doorway, Seanan Maguire asks the question – what happens to the children who come back?
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.
I loved the categorisation of the worlds – Logic, Nonsense, Virtue and Wicked. When you think back to those fictional places they really all do fit into one or two of these categories. It’s clearly a really well thought out system that was both easy to understand and added depth to the world of the story.
A search for home and parental expectation are the driving forces in the novel. Space is given to explore the journeys of multiple characters, indeed even the ones on the sideline show how their particular journey affected their personality – it’s definitely not one size fits all. This is used often to highlight the relationship between nature and nurture – the characters all have parents who don’t accept changes in their children, for example, wanting the asexual Nancy to date and not accepting Kade’s gender transition, which leads them to search for a new home through their doorway.
For fear of spoilers, I’m not going into a lot of detail, but the ending is exceptional. This novella definitely demands multiple re-readings.
The Not So Good
Too short! Every Heart A Doorway is a novella, scraping in at just under 200 pages, but this is a fascinating world that really needs a full book to do it justice.
Anyone who still looks for Narnia in their bedroom wardrobe or lovers of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series.
My Rating: (5 / 5)
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan Maguire is published by Tor and is available now