Every Heart A Doorway

Every Heart A Doorway

Book - 2016
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Children have always disappeared from Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children 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.
Publisher: New York :, A Tom Doherty Associates Book,, 2016
Edition: First edition
Description: 173 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN: 9780765385505
Branch Call Number: McGu


From the critics

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haushallmartinez Aug 13, 2019

A really excellent short horror mystery. The idea of the characters who disappear to other worlds, then having to return to this world, and deal with the disconnect from the bizarre worlds where they felt at home and the mundane world where they emphatically do not. The sometimes broken people who were birthed back into this world. It creates a compelling setting with a touch of the macabre.

ReadingAdviser_leni Jun 21, 2019

While this is a short novel, the impact it has is enormous. While an eerie fantasy (and a mystery), the most important part of it to me was the message of acceptance. Geek Syndicate wrote the best short summary: “Girl, Interrupted meets Grimm’s fairy tales.”

PimaLib_ChristineR May 31, 2019

A perfect little gem of a novel and first in "The Wayward Children" series. McGuire combines her love of fairy tales and horror in this entry. Nancy arrives at Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children after returning from a magical country, like all the other students. And like all the students at this particular school, her only wish is to find the door back to that magical place. In a world ready to treat their "delusions" with padded rooms and antipsychotics, Eleanor West's school allows them to be themselves, but soon after Nancy arrives, the murders start.

With McGuire's typically stylish prose, Every Heart a Doorway is the whodunit for every person who ever looked for the door to Narnia in the back of the closet.

A star off for one bit of clunkiness. McGuire was going for inclusive sexuality, and while it is dealt with well on the whole, we get a bit of an awkward info dump when Nancy first arrives at the school.

JCLBeckyC May 28, 2019

Fast-paced murder mystery set in an asylum for (mostly) girls who are forced to grow up in the real world after getting kicked out of the magical worlds they entered as young, open-eyed girls in the tradition of Alice, Dorothy, and Wendy. Excellent social commentary on gender roles, identity, and the treatment of victims/survivors. These characters understand how it feels to share stories no one in polite society wants to hear. Hand this book to anyone living with a #metoo story.

May 20, 2019

1st of Wayward Children Series
2- Down Among the Sticks and Stones
3 - Beneath the Sugary Sky
4 - In an Absent Dream
5 - Come Tumbling Down

May 11, 2019

Hugo 2017

Feb 16, 2019

Beautifully written. I actually read this book after reading Down Among The Sticks and Bones. The book remained totally unaffected to me and I actually enjoyed reading the first after the second. After this I read book three in the series which is also beautifully written and takes you off into the realms of impossibility. Seanan McGuire is a fantasy novel genius!

JCLChrisK Jan 11, 2019

Imagine discovering magic is real. Not just magic, but a magical world. Someplace like Narnia or Wonderland, except perfectly suited for you. All whole world of magic, where you fit right in and become part of it all.

Imagine then returning to this world and losing all of that.

This tale is set in a secluded school for teens who have had just that experience, have returned from magical worlds, changed and disappointed and unable to cope with what we call reality. A diverse group who have had experienced wildly different types of magic, not sure how to get along with anyone, much less each other.

And then the murders start.

A wonderful premise, lovely writing, strong characters, a deadly mystery, and darkly atmospheric.


ArapahoeJohanna Dec 11, 2018

Absolutely stunning novella. I didn't want to put it down. The characters were so complex and unique; they're the kind of characters I yearned for as a teenager. It's a rare thing to read a book makes you feel understood. These are my kind of misfits, and it was an absolute joy to read about them. The book was both crushingly sad and beautifully hopeful, and I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

Nov 28, 2018

I completely fell into this story, pun fully intended. It grabbed me from the first page, and I didn't stop reading until I finished the book. Absolutely beautiful writing. I've read all of the following books in the series the day they've come out.

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JCLBeckyC May 13, 2019

“Her parents loved her. There was no question of that. Their love wanted to fix her and refused to see that she wasn’t broken.”

JCLBeckyC May 13, 2019

“Kade made a brief, bitter speech about how Wickedness and Virtue were just labels and didn’t mean anything. The world he’d been to was labeled Virtue on all the maps, but it had still cast him out as soon as it realized what he was.”

JCLBeckyC May 06, 2019

The habit of narration, of crafting something miraculous out of the commonplace, was hard to break. Narration came naturally after a time spent in the company of talking scarecrows or disappearing cats. It was, in its own way, a method of keeping oneself grounded, connected to the thin thread of continuity that ran through all lives, no matter how strange they might become. Narrate the impossible things, turn them into a story, and they could be controlled.

JCLChrisK Jan 14, 2019

We went down the mysterious stairs that couldn't possibly be there, of course. Who wouldn't go down an impossible staircase in the bottom of a trunk? We were twelve. We were curious, and angry with our parents, and angry with each other. . . . The door slammed shut behind us. We couldn't have gone back if we'd wanted to--and we didn't want to. We were twelve. We were going to have an adventure if it killed us.

JCLChrisK Jan 14, 2019

This is not an asylum, and you are not mad--and so what if you were? This world is unforgiving and cruel to those it judges as even the slightest bit outside the norm. If anyone should be kind, understanding, accepting, loving to their fellow outcasts, it's you. All of you. You are the guardians of the secrets of the universe, beloved of worlds that most will never dream of, much less see . . . can't you see where you owe it to yourselves to be kind? To care for one another? No one outside this room will ever understand what you've been through the way the people around you right now understand. This is not your home. I know that better than most. But this is your way station and your sanctuary, and you will treat those around you with respect.

Jun 05, 2018

The mountain was as powerful as the tide, just in a different way.

Jun 05, 2018

I’ve had rest enough to last a lifetime, and only a lifetime for the rest of what’s to be done.

Jun 05, 2018

We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.

Jun 05, 2018

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.

Mar 15, 2018

"For us, the places we went were home. We didn't care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. 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."

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Age Suitability

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haushallmartinez Aug 13, 2019

haushallmartinez thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Oct 07, 2017

black_cat_3930 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jun 01, 2017

SilverIlix thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


Add a Summary
Aug 16, 2016

A long time ago, a little girl named Ely West found a doorway, and went on an adventure to a Nonsense world, where she was very happy, until one day she was too grown up to tolerate all the nonsense. Now Eleanor West runs a school for other children who have found doorways that led them home, only to be forced back into a mundane world where no one understands what happened to them. No one except Eleanor. The newest student at Eleanor’s school is Nancy Whitman, and she has just returned from the Halls of the Dead. After years spent perfecting the art of stillness for the Lord of the Dead, everything about this world seems too hot, and fast. Her parents insist on things being just like they were before, meaning colourful clothing, regular meals, and dates with boys, even though Nancy has realized she is asexual. So Nancy is sent to Eleanor’s school to recover from her “ordeal,” and there she meets other children who have had the same experiences. But soon after Nancy arrives, someone begins murdering students.


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