REVIEW: Every Heart A Doorway

Book Review: Every Heart A Doorway (Seanan McGuire)
 book cover Book title Every Heart A Doorway
Series/standalone Wayward Children #1
Author Seanan McGuire
Pages 173
Year published 2016
Category | Genre Young Adult | Fantasy | Novella

Official Summary

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

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.


In A Nutshell

Atmospheric, beautifully written novella about identity and belonging.


  • What will happen to Alice if she got kicked out of Wonderland and have to live among us? 

    What if there’s a magical land out there, far from perfect, yet fits you perfectly?

    What if you found a way to that magical land?What if they kicked you out and you are again stranded in the world where you’ll never fit in?

    Such a perfect premise.

  • Ace protagonist. I feel like we haven’t gotten a decent amount of asexual representation in Young Adult, and to have one as a lead is definitely a welcome change. Another thing I appreciate is that McGuire put it in the narrative that Nancy (the protagonist) is asexual and even pointed out the difference between being asexual and aromantic.
  • It also tackled the issue of identity, specifically but not limited to gender identity. The teenagers in this novella were kids who didn’t fit in at first place, and now after they were back from magical world, they found it even harder to blend in. Even within this group of outcast, there were hierarchy and cliques; bullying was mentioned and witnessed, as each of the character struggle to find their place or keep trying to go back to their magical world.
  • It was dark, mysterious, and haunting, yet I didn’t find it too violent or gory. As a matter of fact, I think McGuire nailed those darker scenes as they were some of my favorite passages.
  • Well-written characters. It’s like high school, but where all of the students were misfits. As I mentioned before, there were cliques among the teenagers: the queen bee, the new kid, and the outcast. Just like your regular high school. Only weirder and with more magic and charm. All the main characters were unique and well thought out. I won’t get to details here as it’s better if you meet them yourself.
  • It’s thought-provoking. I’m honestly surprise that a book this short could challenge my opinion and thought. Should you a) kill people’s hope to force them to live in the now when you know the chance of their wish will ever get fulfilled is next to nothing? Or b) nurture the hope and let these children keep hoping even though you know it might hurt them in the long run? I am choosing b) right now, but we’ll see.
  • The length. It’s perfect as novella. Too short and we’ll get less character development, too long and it’ll get too convoluted. It’s short, simple, and beautiful. McGuire said what needs to be said and ended it before it got too complicated.
    Speaking of…
  • The ending. It sorts of open-end, but by no means a cliffhanger. It lets readers decide for themselves and made their own conclusion based on their perspective.

Things I Wish Were Different

  • Couldn’t honestly think of one.

Final Score

4.5 stars (out of 5 stars)


Highly recommended for both contemporary and speculative fiction readers as it has enough of both and leave many things to readers’ imagination/interpretation. Asexual protagonist and transgender main character accompanied by strong diverse cast of characters were another highlight of the novella. In short, it is well worth your time.