Seanan Maguire – Every Heart A Doorway

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?

seanan maguire every heart a doorway cover review


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.


The Good

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.

Recommended For

Anyone who still looks for Narnia in their bedroom wardrobe or lovers of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series.


My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)


Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan Maguire is published by Tor and is available now

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  1. Sounds like an interesting (if slightly frustrating, due to the length) read. I love the whole doorway / arch idea too (and also loved the Narnia series – where you do see what happens when they come back from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe second book in the series).

    1. Narnia was one of my favourites too growing up! I think that’s why I loved the idea of the school here. Where all the kids from your favourite stories can hang out and wait for their doors to reopen.

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