Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire | Book Review

Sunday, 3 November 2019


Let’s start with the premise before we start this slaughter. Here we go. Children have always disappeared into magical lands. Sometimes they come back and can’t adjust to life outside of their magical world. They can’t get back, but they don’t feel at home here. That’s where Eleanor West’s Home For Wayward Children comes in. It’s a home for kids who are longing to go back to the magical world they left behind. Nancy is the newest member, but hot on her heels comes trouble. Is she the cause of it all? Or is there something more sinister at work?

Man. I really wanted to love this. I thought I was going to love this. I was certain that I was, at least, going to give it a moderately high score. But it wasn’t meant to be. I’m not kidding. I really, really, wanted to love this. The whole premise is awesome. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

This book is the perfect example of a great idea with poor execution. I mean, come on! How great of an idea is that? It has so much potential. You could base a story off a world like OZ, Narnia, and Wonderland, or make up your own. And the idea that these groups of kids exist that have vast knowledge of these worlds but can’t get back. Like a powerless version of the X-men. I’m so in love with the idea that Seanan McGuire came up with that it upsets me that she dropped the ball.

So what was so wrong about the book? Well, let me be nice and I’ll talk about what was right before we continue. First, it was a great idea. I think I’ve made my love of the concept pretty clear. McGuire also had a really good idea about a transgendered character and how that affected how he was treated in his world. It was a good idea and I wish we’d get his story instead of who she chose to write about in any of the books.

That’s basically it. I can’t think of anything else I enjoyed about Every Heart A Doorway. The only reason I finished it was because it was so short. The copy I borrowed from the library clocked in at 169 pages and they were small pages with a big font. Okay, let’s get into the negative.

The worst thing was the pacing of the story. The first big event didn’t take too long to happen, but it didn’t seem to get the story rolling. Even after the first big event it felt like I was still being introduced to the characters and the world. It wasn’t until past the halfway point that things really started to move, but it was still slower than ice cream melting in a snowstorm. McGuire tried to spin a tale of mystery within this fantasy but it was a half hearted attempt. It felt like she wanted to write something longer but ended up being rushed and turned in an incomplete piece.

The mystery in the book is interesting but never builds. Even though stuff happens, I never once cared. The people showing up dead were nothing to me and in fact, the pressing issues of murders never seemed to matter much. The murders didn’t even seem to matter that much to the characters. One of our fellow students died? Better pack up her stuff mere minutes after the death and not feel any feelings. The mystery is solved in the stupidest way possible and then there’s an immediate confrontation and resolution. There was no build up, there was no satisfaction, there was nothing. The story was terrible.

Another bad part of the book was how McGuire tried to shoehorn in the subject of asexuality. Almost right away we’re told that the main character is asexual, which if that was it, would be one thing, but she keeps bringing it up and it has no bearing on the story. The fact that Nancy is asexual never once mattered. It feels like it was added just so McGuire could boast that she had an asexual character. The fact that Kade was transgendered actually mattered. Not for the story as a whole, but for his personal story, for his development. Also there was one random line where one character asked Nancy if it was okay if she masturbated. What the actual f*ck? I’m pretty sure there were parts of the book, like that line, that McGuire just put in the try and be edgy or clever but it backfired more than a perm before picture day at school.

The characters were mostly awful. There were only two who weren’t either detestable or forgettable. One of whom is Kade. As for the other one? I already forgot his name. He was introduced past the middle point of the book and in the few scenes he was in I knew more about him and what drove him than I did characters who were there from the beginning.

There was a Trans character, an asexual character, an Asian, a Latino, and I bet you the other students were every color of the rainbow. And while I do like diversity in my media, it felt like McGuire was trying to be diverse as possible without it actually meaning anything. It felt like she was trying to show off. “Look how inclusive I am! I’m so woke!” Because none of these characters got fleshed out at all, they turned out looking like sad tropes.

The last bad point I want to touch on before we wrap this up is how McGuire never even fully explained the classification system for the magical worlds. Some worlds could be high logic while others could be high nonsense. Some could be governed by laws while others were chaotic. We learned a little about what each classification meant, but not to the extent we should have.

Let us finish with this: This could have been an amazing book. It could have been so inventive, so original, and so fun. But it wasn’t. It fell short. Really short. This book is the ghost of the true potential that was killed when no one stopped to tell Seanan McGuire that she failed.

Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire gets a 2 out of 11

One more thing. She came up with all these clever names and ideas but there was this one character came from this world of skeletons and he fell in love with a girl named Skeleton Girl. Really? In a world full of skeletons he meets someone named Skeleton Girl? That’s like someone coming to our world and meeting someone named Human Girl. It’s stupid and lazy.

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