Content/Trigger Warnings: Death/murder, graphic content, trauma, talk of gender dysphoria, minor transphobia
“It gets better. It never gets easy, but it does start to hurt a little less.”
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
Children have been disappearing under all the right conditions with all the love and care they could hope for. Slipping through cracks, fading into the shadows under their bed, falling deep into the pits of a well, or stumbling through the back of the wardrobe… only this time they find themselves some place new, some place magical. But these lands come with a price and besides, what magical realm has use for a miracle child who’s used up all their luck…
Every Heart A Doorway follows the journey of Nancy, a pale girl who wants nothing more than to tumble back down her door. A door that leads to ghosts and for her, a life of being the perfect statue. She’d not the only child who lands at the home for Wayward Children. Oh no, plenty of children under Eleanor’s care understands the longing and desire to go back through their door, just like Nancy does. But Nancy’s arrival isn’t the only thing that shakes things up. Something evil begins to lurk in the shadows and when tragedy strikes, Nancy will find herself teaming up with outcasts yet some new friends to solve the reason behind the dark deeds brewing at the Home for Wayward Children.
“Death was precious. That didn’t change the fact that life was limited.”
If you would have told me I’d be thrown down a rabbit hole and become obsessed with this series, I probably would have awkwardly chuckled and ate some popcorn. Now, I’m in so deep. So deep that I already ordered the next two books in the series because I know I’m going to binge read the daylights out of this series! And I already have the fourth book lined up in my cart! It was so good and I still can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read Every Heart A Doorway!
Seanan McGuire is a legend from packing this book with so much representation! I can’t begin to list how many books I’ve read that barely had any representation, if any at all! Not only does McGuire give us a main character who’s asexual, but we get a second main character who’s transgender. Take my soul now! Not to mention, this book abolishes gender roles, but we also get a scene where transphobia is shut down with assertiveness and then there reinforcement of love. It was so wonderful read and simply wonderful.
If you were expecting a book of romance and fairy tales then this probably won’t be a book up you’ll be into. Basically, this book is a murder mystery that takes place inside the Wayward Children boarding school. This boarding school is home to many (seventy some children) children who have traveled through doors that are portals to magical worlds or realms. These children have spent so much time there that they come back changed and they no longer fit into society. You wouldn’t either if all you wanted to do was go back to the place that made you finally feel like you found your place in the world. Home is where the heart is.
“You’re nobody’s rainbow.
You’re nobody’s princess.
You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.”
I’ll admit, this book did a few blows to me. As I already mentioned, this book is pretty diverse with it’s characters. But the thing that gut punched me every time was the content of trauma in this book. It’s such an important topic and often times, not many books like to address trauma or acknowledge how important addressing trauma is. In this book, you have all these kids who feel completely displaced and they no longer feel like kids. These kids travel to these mystical realms and it changes them, and unfortunately, it leads to them suffering from PTSD. The worst part is they don’t even have the support they need from their loved ones. Most of these kids’ loved ones don’t believe their children and instead have their children shipped off to this boarding school to get “fixed.” My soul breaks for these children because I have been there and I’m still right there. And Seanan McGuire just hit the nail on the head with trauma because in reality, most kids don’t get the support of their loved ones when they go through traumatic events and they get shipped off to get “fixed” when all they need is someone to say they understand and they’re here for them. Thankfully, we have a character like Eleanor because she may have the ability to open any door at any given time, but she stays in the real world to care for these children who may never go back to their magical worlds.
“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.”
Not every child was from the same realm though. Many children at the boarding school were from different doors that led to different magical realms and those realms didn’t always get along well with other realms. Our main character Nancy actually comes from the realm of the Underworld (and yes, we get a name drop of Persephone, my Queen!). The Lord of the Dead makes a promise to Nancy that Nancy will return, but only if she’s “sure” or when she’s truly ready, but being back in the real world throws her some curve balls and suddenly she’s starting to have doubts. As I mentioned, other children at the boarding school had very different realms compared to Nancy. Some children come from places similar to Candyland while others may come from realms that sound more like a world ruled by Dracula to lands that are battle grounds for fairies and goblins. One can never truly know what they’ll find on the end of a mysterious door.
“This world is unforgiving and cruel to those it judges as even the slightest bit outside the norm.”
Overall, I don’t think I have anything negative to say about this book. Other than the fact that I wish this book didn’t end so soon. For a book so short, it really packed a punch to my gut and as I had already mentioned, I already ordered the next two books in this series. I think anyone who loves a good mystery and loves fantasy should read this book. If you get the opportunity to read this series and you still haven’t read this series (like me) then let me be the person you need, to tell you to go pick this series up and then come gush about this book with me!