Seanan McGuire, 2016
Premise: Nancy found the place she belonged. The place she loved more than anything. But she isn’t there anymore, and her parents have sent her to this school, because they don’t believe her when she tells them where she’s been.
This fantasy-horror novella is lovely, both heartbreaking and uplifting. The story is about outsiders and belonging, about ideas of good and bad, about compassion and fanaticism. All in under 200 pages.
Eleanor West runs a school for children who have returned from journeying in other realms. These latter-day kin to Alice and Dorothy don’t want to adjust to “real” life, they want to go back to the fairylands and underworlds.
Each character is intriguing; they each have a reason they went traveling and were changed by their experiences. The ideas and abilities that followed them back to Earth are only part of what makes them different. Nancy can go still as a statue and subsist on little food due to her travels, but she was out of place in the world before she ever left it.
We mainly follow those students who came through darker, more dangerous worlds, although every glimpse we get of any of the kids’ experiences is fascinating. The inciting plot is violent and gruesome, hence why these kids are the best-suited to handle it.
I’ve been dancing around it, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention that Every Heart a Doorway features LGBTQA representation in a delightfully matter-of-fact style.
It’s overall a wonderful read, and while it’s the right length for this story, I would love more in this world.
4 Stars - A Very Good Book