“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.”
Every Heart a Doorway (EHaD) by Seanan McGuire is one of those books that dances the line between YA and Adult fiction because it really works as either demographic.
This book first came to my attention a few years ago at a local fantasy and science fiction convention I had attended with a friend, because who doesn’t love portal fantasies? (Though I confess to not having realized they had a name and were considered their own sub-genre until then).
I loved books like Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia as a kid (though it did take me longer than most to find that love…thanks for the nightmares animated Mr. Tumnus), and I had read and watched other portal fantasy stories in abundance growing up, but I had never run across any that had focused on the after like EHaD, none that addressed what those kids were supposed to do after the magic goes away.
Every Heart a Doorway is the first in a series of short novellas, all focusing on different teens and the worlds their portals take them to, collectively known as the “Wayward Children” series, (each book can be read as a stand-alone, but you get more out of subsequent books if you know the stories that came before them). EHaD is a bit different from the rest of the series, in part because it’s introducing a lot of the characters and world concepts that future books will focus on, so it has less time establishing its main character, Nancy, and her world, but also because it is, so far, the only book that doubles as a murder mystery/who-done-it.
All in all, Every Heart a Doorway is a short book, clocking in at just 173 pages, that has a little something for almost everyone. It’s about never giving up hope that you’ll find what you’re looking for or where you belong, and how to find happiness where you are in the meantime.