Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children takes in those children that have fallen into new worlds, and only want to go back. When Nancy show’s back up from her Underworld, a student is brutally murdered–and Nancy is suspected.
Why this book?: I had heard about the asexual representation in this book. I was also looking for a magical realism book that would catch my attention.
Interesting, yet predictable
There was a lot of world building that went into this book, which was mainly because everything had to be explained so we weren’t as lost with all the terms that were flung around. Overall, the world building wasn’t overwhelming-in fact, it probably only took around 50-ish pages, not including the exposition and introduction. That’s nothing to me, a seasoned high fantasy reader, but for how short this book was, the real mystery didn’t start up until at least half way through.
The mystery part of the novel itself was really fast-paced and intriguing, because at first it just came out of nowhere. But soon after the initial shock wore off, the real killer became fairly obvious, so I wasn’t much focused on the mystery, but the characters. Through the mystery, the character’s develop right before our eyes, even if you hadn’t known them that much. Characters that were only introduced in the latter-half of the book became important, but still got the necessary description and development for you to care about them.
McGuire is skilled at building up characters and painting an amazing personality with few words. They’re skilled with the characters-but needs help plot-wise, considering how short and predictable this one was. Otherwise their writing is magnificent. I’ve seen reviews complaining about it being in omniscient third, but honestly? That was one of my favorite parts of it.
Including Diversity 101
We had a wonderfully diverse cast of characters, and none of it felt pushed or anything. In fact, it felt so natural that I really forgot that we were reading a novel.
Every Heart a Doorway mentioned words such as asexual, aromantic, and even gender dysphoria. That last one is a big one, because, even in novels with trans characters, I have only run into one other where it mentioned gender dysphoria. I also enjoyed how it explained what these words meant without really going in-depth. In the only other book that I’ve read with on-page asexual rep, they went into dictionary definitions and even watched documentaries about being asexual. It just felt too textbook, and the way Nancy explained it to Sumi when asked perfect.
I also appreciated the fact that this book went into the theme of deciding who you want to be and controlling your own life. It had some really important messages weaved within, disguised as runaway kids and make-believe worlds.
Final Rating: ★★★★☆
Every Heart a Doorway was a really short, entertaining read. It was diverse, and intriguing, if not a little predictable. I thought the worlds that were described seemed so interesting, and I want more books about each of those worlds.
Would I Recommend?
If you’re looking for a really short, fun read, I would try this one. It’s a little predictable after a certain point, but other than that I really enjoyed it.
Published: April 5th, 2016
Page Count: 173
Synopsis: via Goodreads
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.