Book Review – Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway coverSeries: Wayward Children (book #1)

Rating: 4.5 stars

star rating 4-5

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

Every Heart a Doorway is the first installment in a series of novellas about kids who have found doorways to other fantastical worlds and lived crazy adventures there, but eventually ended up getting back to ours and now they don’t know how to cope with being here. Their families don’t believe their stories and they don’t know how to handle these kids, so they send them to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children – a boarding school for kids who went through that same experience.

Have you ever given thought to what would Alice or the Pevensie siblings really feel like after they got back from Wonderland and Narnia, considering everything they went through in those places? Especially the siblings, who were there for years? That has got to mess you up. This idea is kind of what drives this story and I love the whole premise of it. It’s so interesting and like nothing I’ve seen before.

I had heard a lot about this novella before going in, and fortunately it was mostly positive things. I was extremely curious to see how such story could be told in such small amount of pages, and you know what, I think Seanan McGuire knew what she was doing. Some people seemed to feel it could’ve been a little longer, which I agree, but I also think that the author did a really good job in taking advantage of the space she’d set for herself. In less than 200 pages, more stuff happened in this novella than in many full-length 400-page novels out there.

I really enjoyed Every Heart a Doorway. The concept was great, the characters really interesting and the worlds they visited were so intriguing. This particular novella takes place in our world, but we do hear about these kids’ experiences in these other worlds and that left me so curious to find out more about each one of them (which apparently I will in future novellas). But don’t be fooled, despite all the whimsical this is not a light story. Things get pretty dark here, and I wasn’t expecting it, but somehow it makes sense when put in context. These kids went to completely different worlds, that do not abide by our rules of logic or morals. They found those doors at very young age and spent a lot of time in those worlds, some even years, learning and adapting and growing up in that structure. Then all of a sudden they are back here – a world that doesn’t know what to do with them, a world where they don’t fit in anymore – and all they want to do is to go through their doors again and actually feel at home. Of course some disturbing behavior was bound to happen at some point.


“Now I know that if you open the right door at the right time, you might finally find a place where you belong.”


In this first novella we follow Nancy Whitman, a 17-year-old assexual girl who visited the world called Halls of The Dead – a place with no sunlight where immobility is quite valued. Her hair used to be all black, but after she danced with the Lord of the Dead and he passed his hands through it, all the hair that wasn’t touched by his fingers turned completely white and she was left with only 5 black streaks. Nancy was okay, I liked her, but she wasn’t the most compelling character in the ensemble to me. I personally felt very attached to Kade – a boy who travelled to a fairyland called Prism, but was cast out after 3 years living there when it was found out by the court of the Rainbow Princess that he did not identify as a girl -, I wanted to protect him from everyone, even though he was a Goblin King slayer and more than capable of taking care of himself. There are also other intriguing characters, whom I’d love to learn more about, but I’ll let you find out about them for yourselves.

I really liked the lgbtq+ rep in this book, it felt organic, but I’m not really the best person to say this, since I’m not the one being represented in both cases. Regardless, I really appreciated how things were done.

Every Heart a Doorway, as interesting as it was, it was also quite introductory. It presents a lot of new concepts and you can’t get too deep into one thing if you have to focus on so many, but I still think it does a good job at keeping things engaging. Maybe it’s the mystery aspect, but to be honest, not its resolution. I was convinced of who was behind things very early on, and I was right, which tends to happen to me a lot when it comes to mystery plots. I never know if they’re simply predictable or if I’m just good at putting clues together, but the truth is that most times I get a bit disappointed when I get it right. I want to be surprised. Nonetheless, I had a great time with the story. This novella opens a door (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun haha) to endless other worlds that Seanan McGuire could explore in the sequels. Actually, from what I’ve heard, that’s exactly what she’s been doing.

I was beaming with excitement when I found out that apparently each of the following novellas in this series seems to follow some of the characters we’ve met and they explore worlds that were visited by some of them. I really want to pick up Down Among the Sticks and Bones as fast as possible, but I kind of want Seanan to write like 10 more of these novellas before I pick them up and devour them all at once.

As of now, there are 3 novellas published, and the 4th is set to be released in January, 2019.


So, have you read this? If yes, what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments. 😀

5 thoughts on “Book Review – Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire”

  1. I’ve read the first and second novellas in this series! I loved them both, but I think I liked the second one slightly better because it was interesting to see another world fleshed out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’ll feel the same way when I pick up Down Among Sticks and Bones. Like I said in my review, this was great, but was also more introductory. Since the second novella seems to dive deeper into one of the worlds, I think I’ll like it even more than the first one. Can’t wait to read it.

      Liked by 1 person

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