Every Heart a Doorway
Reviewed by Galen Strickland
This is a novella published by Tor.com, among the first that they released in print form. It's a fantasy, part fairy tale, part gothic horror, with mostly YA characters. The setting is Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, operated by a woman who knows all too well the trauma her young charges have endured. Each of them had encountered a portal to another world, lived in that world on a different time scale, then returned to the 'real' world, usually not of their own volition. Every world is different, unique for each individual, and most feel them to be their true home. Some hope for the opportunity to return, for many it was their one and only chance, and that is the source of their trauma. Their parents believe they had been kidnapped, and can't understand the inability of their children to fit back into their old life. Eleanor West is older than she appears, is able to come and go to her other world whenever she wants, but feels an obligation to stay and help others like her.
I'm of two opinions on this story. It has some intriguing characters and situations. Unfortunately for me, the character I liked the most was eliminated fairly early. Several events were predictable, and I did figure out the villain before the reveal, although just barely. I don't think McGuire broke any new ground hereónot that she was trying for thatóbut she did get me thinking about the allegorical nature of the situation. To me, the children represented those who don't feel like they fit into their families, their schools, or society in general. Whether that is due to just being an introvert who wants to be left alone, a reader, writer or other type of artist who wants to escape to anywhere else rather than the boring world around them, or if they are being persecuted for having a different sexual orientation or gender identity. We all want and need a place to belong, a place where we can be ourselves. That aspect alone makes it one I can recommend, especially for younger readers. So, if fantasy is your preferred genre, if any of the above description sounds interesting, get this for yourself or someone you feel might be struggling to fit in. I can't say it will answer any questions for them, but perhaps it would help them envision the type of world they want to live in, maybe even help them create that for themselves.
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