Title: Every Heart A Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire is one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in quite some time. Original and heartfelt, this short novel reads like a love letter to fiction, and shows that fiction can be a useful tool in coping with life’s problems. This book is a great reminder of how great and moving fantasy as a genre can be.
The story’s focus is on a young woman named Nancy, and she had recently traveled to another world, a world much like the Underworld in Greek mythology. Unable to adjust to life back in the real world, Nancy is enrolled at “Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.” The residents and staff have been through the same ordeal as Nancy. They have visited various magical worlds and returned to the real one. The home, therefore acts as a safe space for these young people to deal with their situations. That is until mysterious murders go down, and threatens the institution’s existence. For such a short novel, I was surprised by how much was packed in those pages and how it all neatly came together in the end. It was fast paced, and to the point, without sacrificing plot or character development. I also found the ideas presented here really clever. It gave a unique answer to the question: what happened to characters like Alice, after they left Wonderland? Which felt, at least to me, something different and original. I like different and original.
The characters in the book were very engaging and full of life. I particularly gravitated towards Jack and Jill for obvious reasons (and I’m excited about reading more about them in the second book of the series), and I loved seeing a quirky group of friends emerge. It’s one of my favorite tropes. I also liked as well, that even though these were teenagers with extraordinary experiences, a lot of the same politics arose. Queen bees, the outcasts, usual high school stuff permeated the social lives of that characters, and it felt more real. Also, Seanan McGuire has such a way with words. Her style was simple but melodic, and verged on poetry at times. I fell in love with the line, “She was a story, not an epilogue,” and there’s plenty more of that in the pages of the book. It’s always great to read such beautiful writing.
Another good thing about the book is that it did touch on some real issues, and done so in a way that is smart and sensitive at the same time. It was rewarding to read a scene where two female characters discussed sexual matters without falling into the usual traps that accompany it, such as slut shaming, etc. Masturbation was even discussed and it was discussed as a natural act. Other issues in the book were handled the same way, and I loved it. I hate when people want to talk about issues in the fiction they write, and it becomes nothing but soap-boxing and preaching, even when I agree with the views given. This book did none of that and wish more could do the same. I also loved the diversity featured, especially when it came to sexual diversity. The main character was asexual, and a very prominent supporting character was a trans-man, two types not often found in a lot of media. Their inclusion was much welcomed.
Every Heart A Doorway was an amazing read in every way, and I can’t wait to read more in the series.
Buy Every Heart A Doorway @ Amazon