Book Review: Every Heart A Doorway



Title: Every Heart A Doorway

Author: Seanan Mcguire

Rating: 5/5 stars

Series? No.


Book Depository // Dymocks // Booktopia

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review.


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

Every Heart A Doorway is a charming, dark, and wistful tale about the children who are dumped back into reality after their adventures in otherworldly lands. I absolutely adored it, and I think anyone who grew up reading about doorways hidden behind wardrobes or within rabbit holes would feel the same. This review will be a bit on the shorter side, as the book itself is not very long and I don’t want to spoil anything for you.

“For us, 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.”

Children who have experienced the wonders of the world beyond the portals – whether it be Wonderland, or Confections, or Webworld – can no longer accept the humdrum of reality. They’re desperate to find that doorway which will lead them to their true home once more. While they struggle to assimilate to this world, they find refuge at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Eleanor was once a traveler between worlds, and hope to help as many of these broken and lost children as she can before she goes through that doorway one last time.

“You’re nobody’s doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.”

I think if you’re a lover of books, especially the ones about the magical world of Oz, of Narnia, of Wonderland, then you’ll love Every Heart A Doorway and its dark twist on the story. It’s a classic tale in reverse, it questions what would happen to Dorothy and Alice once they stumbled back home. How could they shrug it off as a dream when so much have happened? Our protagonist is Nancy, who just freshly returned from the The Halls of the Dead. She yearns for the quiet and solemn colours of her underworld. On the other hand, her parents and the rest of society want her to embrace ordinary things all girls should love: like bright tones and dating. This disconnect is a pattern repeated again and again in the stories of each individual in the Wayward Home, and the book’s important themes about identity versus societal expectations.

“Hope hurts. That’s what you need to learn, and fast, if you don’t want it to cut you open from the inside out. Hope is bad. Hope means you keep on holding to things that won’t ever be so again, and so you bleed an inch at a time until there’s nothing left.”

Although the book is very short, at only 170 pages long, it contains a multitude of diverse and vibrant characters. We spend most of the time in our heroine’s head, and hear of how she gradually befriends the fellow students at Eleanor’s home. Nancy is asexual, and I have to say I have never read a fantasy book with an asexual person as a main character – so I was delightfully surprised. The book never makes a huge deal of it, and always treat her in a respectful manner. Similarly, Kade, one of her fellow students, is gender fluid. As a child, he often dressed up as a girl – and during his entire stint in Prism, his hosts thought he was female. Again, the text approaches this in refreshingly respectful way. I also loved hearing about the students of the home and the different worlds they traveled to.

Narrate the impossible things, turn them into a story, and they could be controlled.

The writing itself is wonderful and atmospheric. At times dark, at times tongue-in-cheek, it’s utterly delightful all the way through. While the book took place largely in our world, Eleanor’s home crosses the border between reality and magic primarily thanks to the adaptable writing style. The book could be talking about the teen’s struggles with their parents one moment, and then go into convoluted classification of the different types of magical worlds in the next. Yet, it never feels jarring. This peculiar little story caters directly to my very soul. My only complaint is that it should be longer, as I found the ending slightly abrupt.

Do you like stories about portals leading to otherworlds? Have you read this magical book? Chat with me below!

23 thoughts on “Book Review: Every Heart A Doorway

  1. Great review! I have been waiting for the review ever since you were gushing about the book on Twitter. And you are right. I think I would greatly enjoy the book. I love stories with portals – The Narnia ones, His Dark materials and also Gaiman’s stories.


  2. What an interesting book! This is honestly the first time I’m hearing of Every Heart A Doorway and it sounds really cool. While I’ve never actually read any books about magical portals (even Narnia), I’m definitely inclined to check them out. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and putting this on my radar, Aentee! 😊


  3. There was this show called Little Bear that I used watch back when I was a kid, and I remembered this one episode where the main bear slipped under his bed sheets and was transported to China. I tried the same, but unfortunately I didn’t make it to China. This book sounds like the perfect nostalgia read. Thanks for sharing your review! 😊


  4. MAGICAL BOOKS. MAGICAL WORLDS. YASS MA’AM! I think it’s bred in every one of us book lovers which is why they’re so popular! Hidden worlds like Harry Potter, Narnia, and Alice in Wonderland just have that magical elect that is so far from he real world. No romance is even needed in books like these! I’m so glad you liked this girl! ❤


  5. omG I NEED THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY. LIKE I NEED TO DROP EVERYTHING AND GO FIND IT AND DEVOUR IT. *flails wildly* I love magical books and I love that the MC is asexual and I love the cover. So basically: need.
    (Your reviews are always so convincing. 😉 )


  6. This book has been on my tbr for a while now so I’m BEYOND happy to hear you loved it so much!! I can’t wait to get around to reading it (hopefully soon!) Such a great review. I hope you’re having a lovely day. 🙂


  7. I love the sound of this! Not only does it have diverse characters, but there just THERE and it’s not marketed as a diverse read. It feels much more natural and like real representation. Hooray! I love children’s fantasy, and apart from Dorothy Must Die to a lesser extent, you never read about what happens after the magic dies, after the hero or heroine returns to their lives. Gosh I’m excited to read this one. Beautiful review Aentee, really enjoyed it ❤


  8. I was so keen to read your review, Aentee, when I saw you talking about this on Instagram! Just from your comments and photos there, I added it to my tbr, and I’m so utterly thrilled with that decision because aaah, this sounds incredible and unique and everything I want in a book (although I’m a little sad it’s so short!). I really find myself captivated by those stories of adventures in other worlds and I love playing around with those kind of ideas, so to have a novel where someone is introducing the after effects of that otherworldly travel and adventure is just a delight and a fascination!

    I’m also completely thrilled, because these characters- aside from having that really interesting aspect of delving into sociatal expectations that you touched upon, which I am so keen to delve into- want to go back, and I am always a little bit frustrated when characters have a chance to stay in the fabulous world they’ve been transported, walked, or fallen into and they leave. There are so few characters I’ve read who choose to stay, and I really look forward to finding out how these characters, characters who want to go back, find their way.

    I can’t wait to read this! Your review is gorgeous, the quotes you chose were so lovely and made me all the keener! beautiful job. xx


  9. This book sounds so good! I heard about it a while back but kind of had forgotten about it until now…it’s definitely one that I’m going to be picking up soon!


  10. I read this a few weeks ago and was just absolutely sobbing by the last page. Nancy, Kade, and Jack were such great characters! Like you, I was very excited to read an SFF book featuring two queer protagonists, especially since they’re particular identities are so rarely represented.

    The various worlds they travelled to, be they high logic or chaos, were absolutely fascinating. Nancy’s world and the world that the skeleton boy went to (his name escapes me) definitely captured my imagination. I’ve heard whisperings that there are going to be more novellas set in this universe, so I’m really hoping we’ll be able to read more about those realms!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had no idea there were others planned for this series. This makes me so so happy!! Like you I thought this book was perfect and can’t wait to see if we get to glimpse at the other worlds. ESP the Webworld, that poor queen trying to keep the portal open for her adopted daughter *sobs*


  11. You’re making me want to reread this! I know we talked about this a little on twitter but I really am so glad you loved it too! It makes me happy. Especially because I feel like you have to be a little bit weird to love this book. Like, if my sister read it she would probably hate it, you know?
    I think I just called you weird. Sorry hun! 😉


  12. I have been meaning to read this book. I’ve read the author’s October Daye series but I can honestly say that this book seems even better. And the title is lyrical.

    Liked by 1 person

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