EVERY HEART A DOORWAY
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA, FANTASY, LGBT+ (ASEXUAL PROTAGONIST)
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.
I really enjoyed this book. It has a sort-of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children feel to it — if a little older and more of an urban fantasy. I really enjoyed the dreamy, evocative style of the writing, which perfectly fits in with the aching desire the children all feel to return ‘home’ to the various magical lands they’ve visited. There’s a real ‘feel’ to this book and a depth to the world that’s really impressive for the page-count.
The pacing was good, even though it’s novella length, and the mystery has a few nice false starts, even if the solution isn’t a huge surprise. The lands themselves are a wonderful bit of world building. Each child goes to a land where they’re most suited and likely to thrive. These are categorised by being either logic or nonsense and either virtue or wickedness. Kade being trans and Nancy’s asexuality (and the difference between aromatism) are well explained in the text without derailing the story or feeling out of place. There’s also some great discussion of gender roles and stereotypes e.g. Jack and Jill (the smart twin and the pretty one), the loudness of boys vs the quietness of girls)
It took me a little while to connect with Nancy, as she’s quite passive at the beginning of the story (which actually makes a lot of sense once you understand that survival in her ‘world’ was all about stillness). As she started to make friends and interact with the other students she grew on me. I really like all four members of the little misfit gang that unintentional forms, but my favourite was Jack, with her dark attitude, logical nature and dapper neckties. The only character I really had a problem with was headmistress Eleanor. I just thought her handling of the whole ‘murder on campus’ situation was very passive and lacking in good leadership skills. While she cares about her students, she didn’t seem as capable as the teenagers did. Dumbledore she ain’t.
Every Heart a Doorway is a great story, perfect for everyone who wanted to go to Hogwarts, Narnia or Wonderland and had to figure out the real world instead. I’m looking forward to the sequels.