Why I read it: The description really intrigued me. I mean, what lives are like for the kids who go through magical doors and then come back to our world? Yes, please!
Who I’d recommend it to: Almost anyone who likes fantasy, but especially other people who have wondered what it was like to go to a magical other world, then come back here.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
What it’s about:
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
Children have always disappeared 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.
I’ve seen this book everywhere online, and it felt like I was the last person to read it. It was on my TBR for a long time before I finally got a copy from the library, but then I was so not in the mood for fantasy I almost didn’t read it. *sigh* I hate genre slumps. But, finally, the night before it was due back, I couldn’t sleep and opened it to give it a shot. Then I ended up staying up all night because I couldn’t stop reading even though my eyes were burning.
The concept of this book is something I don’t think I’ve encountered before, but I’ve always wanted to. I mean, what was life like for Alice, or the Pevensie kids, or any other children/young adults who’ve stumbled through a magical doorway, had some adventures, but then come back to their original world? Every Heart a Doorway kind of gives us an idea of what it would be like. (Although I think in this book, most of the doors we’re familiar with were considered fiction.)
All of the characters were so unique, and dealt with coming back to this world in different ways, and they all had personalities shaped (at least in part) by their time spent in whatever world they’d been in. There were different categories for the types of worlds kids had visited, and some had more in common than others, even if their worlds were kind of categorized similarly. One thing that all of the kids had in common was that they were back in this world, but really wanted to find their doors again and go back to what they considered their real homes. It was kind of sad, and I wanted all of them–even the characters I didn’t like–to find their doors again to go home.
The writing was beautiful and atmospheric, and I loved it. The whole novella had a little bit of a creepy vibe to it (not like in horror stories, but it was definitely not fluffy all the time), which was refreshing for me because I don’t find that as often as I’d like in fantasy. (It was creepy, or eerie, in the way the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray was at times, if anyone else has read that and knows the vibe I’m talking about.) I’m pretty sure that once I own a copy of this book, I’ll have tons of sticky flags marking quotes.
I didn’t really love Nancy, but I didn’t hate her. She was just…ok…I guess? I didn’t have anything against her, but I didn’t relate or connect to her as much as I thought I would after learning what kind of world she’d come from. Most of the characters were like that for me, except Jack. I was almost scared of how much I related to Jack at times, and she was absolutely my favorite character. See my love/fear in the tweet below…
(And yes, I did read the excerpt from Down Among the Sticks and Bones and might have screamed in delight because I’m excited, or frustration because it was not yet released.)
But I digress, so back to actually reviewing the book…
So, the concept was fantastic, the characters were all at least ok (some were fleshed out more than others, some I liked more than others, etc.), the writing and setting were great, and this was, overall, a delight to read. My only real complaint was that it was so short. I’m not really upset that it was a novella, but I would have liked to it to be a little longer. I also had the mystery figured out for the most part very early on, but having it all revealed was still interesting and a little surprising. (I won’t say more because spoilers.) I really want to know more about almost everything from this book, especially a couple of the worlds. (Nancy’s and Jack and Jill’s, in particular.)
Now that Down Among the Sticks and Bones is out, and seems like it’s going to focus on Jack and Jill, I am super excited to get my hands on it. I’m probably going to buy a copy of it and Every Heart a Doorway soon, because I can absolutely see myself re-reading this several times, and probably trying to make husband read it.
For uniqueness, great writing, interesting characters, and a fantastic concept, this has probably earned a place on my list of all time favorites.