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Every Heart A Doorway

Every Heart A Doorway

Book - 2016
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Children have always disappeared from Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children 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.
Publisher: New York, NY : Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780765385505
Call Number: SF MCGUIRE
Characteristics: 173 pages ; 22 cm


From the critics

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Jun 15, 2021

This book is very good and an easy read. The concept is very interesting and I would love to see it explored in more depth. Part of what makes this such easy is the length, but that is also the downfall of this book. Parts of it feel rushed and underdeveloped. The ending suffers the most from this problem. It felt abrupt and unsatisfactory.
That being said the book has many great qualities and is worth picking up.

May 27, 2021

While not as good as Middlegame, what I consider to be Seanan McGuire's masterpiece and a must-read for anyone who enjoys thoughful, character-driven urban fantasy, Every Heart A Doorway is a very good novella with an amazing premise. It's an incredibly clever concept, and it's executed quite well... for the most part. Unfortunately, while the characters are interesting and the setting will leave you clamoring for more, the plot is rushed and fairly uninteresting, coming to a very abrupt conclusion. I did very much enjoy the ending, though. Not for children, but this is a wonderful little murder mystery suitable for young adults and adults alike.

May 27, 2021

Building upon the rich history of portal fantasy literature, Seanan McGuire creates a world that should resonate with many a young adult; this is a story about identity, dissonance, and community.

In this first book of the Wayward Children series, we are introduced to Nancy, a girl whose family has given up on, and chosen to send to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. This is no ordinary boarding school, as all the residents are children who no longer want to live in this world. They are children who, by chance or fate, had stumbled their way through some magical doorway and ended up in a fantasy world (think Narnia, Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, etc.), wherein they experienced adventure and peril, found identity and belonging, then, again by chance or fate, found their way back to the real world. After such an experience, these children are irrevocably changed and struggle to function in society or fit in with their prior family and friends; these are children always looking for some new way back to their magical worlds.

This is a fun premise, and upon this framework a murder mystery is laid, adventure and intrigue ensue, etc., but the real art and beauty of the book is in the fun and unique characters we meet along the way, and in its power to speak to the heart of its readers. At its essence, this story is about that liminal feeling of youth: where you struggle to find your community, friends change, you rebel against family, identity is fluid and malleable, and you strive to find where you “belong.” Yes, this is a fun and intriguing story, but it is also a parable of sorts, and it is one that will be easier heard by those who still remember the trying times of youth. Overall, a nice first entry, and I look forward to reading the next entry in the series.

DPL_Graham Apr 20, 2021

Prolific author Seanan McGuire answer the question - what happens to all the kids who are in gateway fantasy books and then return back to our world (think Narnia or Alice in Wonderland)? At a special school for those returning teens from the violent, the logical, and the fantastical realms are all brought together to help overcome their trauma. A mystery and exploration in one - this is a quick and dark read for adult and teens. This is book #1 in the Wayward Children series (

Apr 10, 2021

A great story about finding out, and accepting, oneself as you are. Mostly filled with compelling, complex characters. An extremely enjoyable read, if a bit too short.

This felt like a love letter to the stories I grew up loving, to the stories that I wanted so badly to live in. It was magical and creative and so, so lovely.

Mar 20, 2021

Waaaay more YA than I realized. The writing/storytelling feels like it's meant for the 14 and under crowd, but then again there's a lot of death and violence. Character development feels painfully forced. Author feels the need to remind us of characters' back stories any time they do anything.

ReadingAdviser_Sally Jan 23, 2021

This book is the perfect amount of weird. I love how this story is told, it feels like the kind of story you long for as a child and yet packed with the darkness and brutality that I now crave.

LoganLib_Sheridan Jan 11, 2021

I absolutely loved the concept of this story, what happens when Alice comes back from Wonderland? How does she cope with the real world again? This a was a thriller/horror/dark version of a what happens after.

I liked the trans, queer and just general acceptance of difference representation there was in this book. Nancy, one of the main characters is ace and Kade is trans. This is also connected to the different doors the characters go though as the worlds they enter are connected to their personality.

I felt like things started happening very quickly with Nancy's roommate suddenly dead and now they're trying to find the killer when we barely know the different characters who are at the 'asylum' with Nancy.

I liked how they learned to use the 'abilities' they gained in their other world to protect themselves and to find the killer. They learn how to accept themselves even in the 'real' world and to find the power in who they are.

Overall I just don't think there was enough of this book as we didn't get to really know or connect with a vast majority of the characters. There is also a lack of conclusion for the characters. The killer is dead but I have no idea what happens to Kade and Nancy.

As someone who considers themselves Ace (I have an aversion to labels - they feel so concrete and permanent) I am also not sure how I feel about Nancy's relationship with Kade because I am against pushing Ace characters into a relationship so that they seem normal but I am also not averse to dating and felt her art comparison was mostly accurate though I would say "you can appreciate a painting but you wouldn't want to f*** one." might be a little to adult for the intended audience though! I also have no idea on own voices rep for this book.

1.5 * I have seen this book for 2 years and have seen reviews. So when I got a copy of it I was so excited to read it. The concept of this book was so intriguing... I mean was Alice in Alice in wonderland relived to be home, or did she miss wonderland? But, at last this book just felt short for me. I did find myself caring one way or another for the kids in this book. What they were going through, as well, did not line up with the way they reacted. I've heard that the second book got even better reviews, but i think I'll stop here and go on to another book series.

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Add a Quote

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

ReadingAdviser_Sally Jan 23, 2021

We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.

ReadingAdviser_Sally Jan 23, 2021

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

JCLBeckyC May 13, 2019

“Her parents loved her. There was no question of that. Their love wanted to fix her and refused to see that she wasn’t broken.”

JCLBeckyC May 13, 2019

“Kade made a brief, bitter speech about how Wickedness and Virtue were just labels and didn’t mean anything. The world he’d been to was labeled Virtue on all the maps, but it had still cast him out as soon as it realized what he was.”

JCLBeckyC May 06, 2019

The habit of narration, of crafting something miraculous out of the commonplace, was hard to break. Narration came naturally after a time spent in the company of talking scarecrows or disappearing cats. It was, in its own way, a method of keeping oneself grounded, connected to the thin thread of continuity that ran through all lives, no matter how strange they might become. Narrate the impossible things, turn them into a story, and they could be controlled.

JCLChrisK Jan 14, 2019

We went down the mysterious stairs that couldn't possibly be there, of course. Who wouldn't go down an impossible staircase in the bottom of a trunk? We were twelve. We were curious, and angry with our parents, and angry with each other. . . . The door slammed shut behind us. We couldn't have gone back if we'd wanted to--and we didn't want to. We were twelve. We were going to have an adventure if it killed us.

JCLChrisK Jan 14, 2019

This is not an asylum, and you are not mad--and so what if you were? This world is unforgiving and cruel to those it judges as even the slightest bit outside the norm. If anyone should be kind, understanding, accepting, loving to their fellow outcasts, it's you. All of you. You are the guardians of the secrets of the universe, beloved of worlds that most will never dream of, much less see . . . can't you see where you owe it to yourselves to be kind? To care for one another? No one outside this room will ever understand what you've been through the way the people around you right now understand. This is not your home. I know that better than most. But this is your way station and your sanctuary, and you will treat those around you with respect.

Mar 15, 2018

"For us, the places we went were home. We didn't care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. We cared about the fact that for the first time we didn't have to pretend to be something we weren't. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world."

Mar 15, 2018

“We went down, and at the bottom there was a door, and on the door there was a sign. Two words. ‘Be Sure.’ Sure of what? We were twelve, we weren’t sure of anything. So we went through."

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Add Age Suitability
Mar 26, 2021

maddy_j42 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

haushallmartinez Aug 13, 2019

haushallmartinez thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Oct 07, 2017

black_cat_3930 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jun 01, 2017

SilverIlix thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


Add a Summary
Aug 16, 2016

A long time ago, a little girl named Ely West found a doorway, and went on an adventure to a Nonsense world, where she was very happy, until one day she was too grown up to tolerate all the nonsense. Now Eleanor West runs a school for other children who have found doorways that led them home, only to be forced back into a mundane world where no one understands what happened to them. No one except Eleanor. The newest student at Eleanor’s school is Nancy Whitman, and she has just returned from the Halls of the Dead. After years spent perfecting the art of stillness for the Lord of the Dead, everything about this world seems too hot, and fast. Her parents insist on things being just like they were before, meaning colourful clothing, regular meals, and dates with boys, even though Nancy has realized she is asexual. So Nancy is sent to Eleanor’s school to recover from her “ordeal,” and there she meets other children who have had the same experiences. But soon after Nancy arrives, someone begins murdering students.


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