Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children) - Seanan McGuire
Do you ever have the feeling you don't really belong here?
Ask yourself: "Is this it?".
Do you feel like there's some adventurous side of you which can't come out due to the restrictions of the world we live in?
If so, imagine that one day, instead of opening the door to your good ol' (ever so boring) bedroom, you open that same door, yet there's an entirely different world behind it. Not like the Narnia kind of experience, though, if you're thinking about that now.

"That's because Narnia was a Christian allegory pretending to be a fantasy series, you asshole"

...is what the book has to say about that. So, nope, no tumbling out of a wardrobe into some snowy landscape. Unless that's exactly what you're into, of course. See, all the doors  in this book are actually portals with a deeper connection to the person who's opening one. The world behind it is a reflection of what's hidden deep within your soul. Straight from the heart, if you will.

If you're secretly a bit of a badass, you'll most definitely stumble upon a world in which you will thrive as one, and enjoy the hell out of it while doing so. You'd be perfectly happy there; this new world providing all the mental and physical stimulation you always needed to become this perfectly happy.
For Nancy, the protagonist of Every Heart A Doorway, this world happens to be the Hall of the Dead. Hey, it wouldn't be my kind of thing either, but whatever floats her boat.

Now imagine being happy there, riding a horse with a monkey on your shoulder (I think my door would lead me to a Pippi Longstocking themed world with playing, baking cookies and fighting pirates) or, you know, being a happy corpse bride or something, and another door (or the same one) opens up again. This time back to where you came from: this world. There's the option where you can choose to walk into it and return to your old family and friends (the other worlds' times are entirely different from ours, meaning you would only have been gone for a couple of months or so here, after spending years in the other world). Then there's also the option of not having an option, really, and just plainly being kicked out of the other world into your old one. Want to go back to living the fullest life possible? Too bad, the portal's closed again.

This is where Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children comes in. It's a bit of a mixture between a boarding school and an asylum. With the exception that the people who live there aren't batshit crazy necessarily. They're just really, really homesick.

This first book takes place in the institution entirely and so we get to meet lots of (mostly) teenagers who each already lived for years in one of the fantasy worlds. Some of them have already practically started a family there, yet ended back up into their old child's body over here. Frustrating? Yes.

So while some of them can never return to this:

(God, I'd be heartbroken!)

Others cry themselves to sleep each night because they can't return to this:


This makes this book a bric–a–brac  of genres, really, while still remaining within the YA Fantasy one as well. I've got two words for this: fucking awesome.

The characters are so unique and wonderful, with such a variety of backgrounds. Each and every one of their stories could fill up a book in itself. Which is what makes this even more of a writing accomplishment because the characters, the concept; the entire story, is being told in only 176 pages!

I loved the gothic theme, the rainbow theme, the candy kingdom theme...all of the themes, really! It felt like Roald Dahl, Tim Burton, and Agatha Christie (with a bit of a potty mouth), all sat together and wrote this book. There are crazy worlds, quirky characters and a mystery that will make you beg for more

Which makes me get to the only thing I didn't like about this book: the ending. Let's just say that the story keeps you guessing about something but it turned out I guessed right the first time straight away? Hence, a little disappointment there, but nothing too major. The book also has a bit of an open ending to it but this isn't called #1 for naught; there will be 2 more books as far as I can tell. Do I want to read them? Bloody hell, yeah! Do you want to read them? Yes, yes you do. But just start with this one. Recommended to everyone who still believes in a little bit of magic.

4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 here on GR.

An ARC of this book was provided by Tor via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.