Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
3.5 out of 5
Well, the problem is that I did expect something different.
This is the story of what happens to the children who go to fairy lands and underworlds and eventually have to return to our world. As you can imagine this is a hard situation to cope with. Once you’ve seen unicorns and ghosts and vampires why would you want to come back? Luckily there is a boarding school and therapy for such children! And this is where the novel takes place. A boarding school for the returned; part Hogwarts, part Asylum. I absolutely love that premise – especially because McGuire uses the various magical worlds she creates to talk about gender and mental health!
However, there were a few things that threw me off.
First of all I didn’t know this was a YA book.
Although I have to say that the creepy parts were VERY creepy, especially if this is aimed at a teen audience. Personally, I liked the creepy bits (some of which were positively gory…)! But the novel has its fair share of teenage trouble such as peer pressure and first love (or something like it). However, it also has murder and resurrection and ghosts and some really wonderful characters!
Yes, the mystery is fairly short-lived. You can see the “whodunit” from miles away. Once the school and every character has been properly introduced, the plot becomes pretty rushed. And at only about 160 pages I was wondering about the longish exposition. So in terms of structure there is room for improvement.
The second aspect that kind of annoyed me (though I’m not sure if this is the right word for it…) was that half-way through I found out that this is the first in a planned trilogy! I hate it when that happens because it takes away a lot of possibilities as to who is going to survive the whole thing.
I loved McGuire’s writing; I loved the creepy bits, and the way she set up her world of many worlds. I love that she manages to talk about serious things without batting you over the head with them. I love how she clothes ugly, sad, and terrifying things into beautiful words and magic!
And – oh my god! – what a title!!
I am definitely looking forward to the rest of the series hoping she will focus more on structure and plot balance in the next ones.