Every Heart A Doorway

Every Heart A Doorway

Book - 2016
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Sent away to a home for children who have tumbled into fantastical other worlds and are looking for ways to return, Nancy trigers dark changes among her fellow schoolmates and resolves to expose the truth when a child dies under suspicious magical circumstances.
Publisher: New York :, Tom Doherty Associates, LLC,, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780765385505
Characteristics: 173 pages


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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.

Nancy has returned to the world as we know it after disappearing through a doorway. Now, her parents have sent her to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, hoping that their daughter will return to how she was before she disappeared. Because Nancy is different, full of stillness now instead of joy and colour. But Nancy only wants to go home, and how can any school change that when that home is an Underworld with a door that won’t manifest again?

The idea of multiple realities that can be accessed through doorways/closets/rabbit holes/cracks in the wall/etc. isn’t new, but combining all of them in this format is, and oh god did I love it. The way worlds fall on a spectrum, Nonsense and Logic and Wickedness and Virtue, just makes so much SENSE immediately that it really is like it’s real. Like this school exists and these worlds exist and of course they always have, of course, duh. I loved how tangible everything feels, concept-wise with this one.

Character wise, the diverse cast is marvellous. There’s such a range of personalities and identities and none of it ever feels stereotypical. I really related to Nancy and liked her immediately, and the friends (and foes) she meets along the way are vibrant and interesting.

I just...I really wish this was longer. I blasted through it and just felt like I was really getting to know everyone and then it was over. I wanted to savour the mystery more, relish the twists and the worlds and live in the pages for a little bit longer. However, I think what we have here works, really works, and I can’t wait to see how Seanan deals with the rest of the books in this series.

Apr 29, 2020

Very well written. The plot goes very fast, however it is a short book. Does very well to expand on the idea of what happens after kids get back from Fairyland

Hillsboro_JeanineM Mar 24, 2020

McGuire weaves a story about what happens to all the kids who go to "other" worlds through wardrobes, mirrors, rabbit holes, etc when they return to their previous life. It is an entertaining quick read and a nice distraction from today's world.

Feb 10, 2020

The books checks off lots on the inclusivity list which I was very happy about. I loved this story! Looking forward to the next one!

Jan 08, 2020

Every Heart a Doorway has my heart. While I feel it may not be the author's strongest work, I was sucked into the story and didn't want it to end.

JCLDevinB Nov 13, 2019

I fell completely in love with this short and beautifully melancholic tale. Centering on young girls who have returned from fantasy worlds and need help coping with their current reality, Every Heart a Doorway swept me up in its moody take on the fantasy genre. It is the perfect read for a blustery day spent inside in a thick fuzzy blanket.

haushallmartinez Aug 13, 2019

A really excellent short horror mystery. The idea of the characters who disappear to other worlds, then having to return to this world, and deal with the disconnect from the bizarre worlds where they felt at home and the mundane world where they emphatically do not. The sometimes broken people who were birthed back into this world. It creates a compelling setting with a touch of the macabre.

ReadingAdviser_leni Jun 21, 2019

While this is a short novel, the impact it has is enormous. While an eerie fantasy (and a mystery), the most important part of it to me was the message of acceptance. Geek Syndicate wrote the best short summary: “Girl, Interrupted meets Grimm’s fairy tales.”

PimaLib_ChristineR May 31, 2019

A perfect little gem of a novel and first in "The Wayward Children" series. McGuire combines her love of fairy tales and horror in this entry. Nancy arrives at Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children after returning from a magical country, like all the other students. And like all the students at this particular school, her only wish is to find the door back to that magical place. In a world ready to treat their "delusions" with padded rooms and antipsychotics, Eleanor West's school allows them to be themselves, but soon after Nancy arrives, the murders start.

With McGuire's typically stylish prose, Every Heart a Doorway is the whodunit for every person who ever looked for the door to Narnia in the back of the closet.

A star off for one bit of clunkiness. McGuire was going for inclusive sexuality, and while it is dealt with well on the whole, we get a bit of an awkward info dump when Nancy first arrives at the school.

JCLBeckyC May 28, 2019

Fast-paced murder mystery set in an asylum for (mostly) girls who are forced to grow up in the real world after getting kicked out of the magical worlds they entered as young, open-eyed girls in the tradition of Alice, Dorothy, and Wendy. Excellent social commentary on gender roles, identity, and the treatment of victims/survivors. These characters understand how it feels to share stories no one in polite society wants to hear. Hand this book to anyone living with a #metoo story.

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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."

Mar 15, 2018

"This world is unforgiving and cruel to those it judges as even the slightest bit outside the norm."

Mar 15, 2018

"Hope means you keep on holding to things that won't ever be so again, and so you bleed an inch at a time until there's nothing left."

Mar 15, 2018

"Where did you find the whipped cream?” he asked. “You had milk, I had science,” said Jack. “It’s amazing how much of culinary achievement can be summarized by that sentence. Cheese making, for example. The perfect intersection of milk, science, and foolish disregard for the laws of nature."

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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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