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.
The word “review” in the title is 100% misleading because this is just going to be an absolute gush fest. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited to write a review. I know that sounds bad when I’m a book blogger whose main role is reviews books, but I just mean I get nervous when I post reviews because so many people have English degrees or are studying English or just have an incredible way with words and I….. don’t. I’m not a writer. I honestly don’t even care this time though because I am just so, so excited to talk about this book.
This book is for the people who waited for their Hogwarts letter.
This book is for the people who wished their wardrobe would take them to Narnia.
This book is for the people who wanted to fall down a rabbit hole or have Peter Pan show up outside their window.
If you’ve ever felt like your home was anywhere besides where you are then this book is for you.
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children is a boarding school that presents itself as a place for troubled children to attend. In reality it is actually a school that doubles as a therapy home for children who have stumbled into other worlds and then returned home. New girl Nancy, whose just returned from an Underworld, finds herself surrounded by a murder mystery as her fellow students start to come to grisly demises around her. It’s up to her and the surviving students to find out what’s happening.
Every Heart A Doorway is so powerful for a novella. It’s impacted me more than full length books have. It discusses trying to figure out where you belong and growing up.
“Older than I look, younger than I ought to be. My skin is a riddle not to be solved, and even letting go of everything I love won’t offer me the answer. My window is closing, if that’s what you’re asking. Every day I wake up a little more linear, a little less lost, and one day I’ll be one of the women who says ‘I had the most charming dream,’ and I’ll mean it. Old enough to know what I’m losing in the process of being found.”
As soon as I read the summary for Every Heart A Doorway I knew I had to read it. The concept is something that’s so interesting and it’s hard to believe it’s never been discussed before. We’re always reading books where characters enter a world that isn’t their own, but we never really focus on what happens after. Imagine being in a place where you can be yourself, where you feel like you finally belong and then all of a sudden you’re back in the real world? That ache is the driving point in this book and it really got to me.
I remember desperately wanting the world of Harry Potter to be real when I first read the books. I wished so hard that my Hogwarts letter would show up on my 11th birthday. I’m not even going to lie – I still wish it was real. I would give almost anything for it to actually exist and it’s why I was able to connect so much to the characters in this book. I understand the desperation to get back to where you belong. I have this with music too. Concerts and lyrics are my home. I just want to live at concerts and some lyrics I just want to crawl into and wrap them around me because they get me. They’re were I feel safe.
Diversity plays a huge part in this book, which is one of the reasons why I read it for #DiverseAThon. Nancy is asexual, there’s another character that is transgender and there’s characters of all different races. It wasn’t forced either. People of different backgrounds are ALL around us so it makes sense to not have every character in a story be white. I had a personal connection with this book more than I was expecting. There was a line where Nancy was talking about being asexual and she mentioned that being asexual and being aromantic aren’t the same thing. I read the word aromantic and I just started crying. It’s the first time I have ever seen the orientation I identify with be mentioned in a book. I’m tearing up again now just thinking about it. Don’t ever try to tell me that diversity isn’t important. We all deserve to see ourselves in the media we consume. It also brings up important gender issues.
“Because ‘boys will be boys’ is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Lundy. “They’re too loud, on the whole, to be easily misplaced or overlooked; when they disappear from the home, parents send search parties to dredge them out of swamps and drag them away from frog ponds. It’s not innate. It’s learned. But it protects them from the doors, keeps them safe at home. Call it irony, if you like, but we spend so much time waiting for our boys to stray that they never have the opportunity. We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.”
The writing style presented in Every Heart A Doorway is magical, whimsical and dark. This is not a light-hearted, cute fantasy/fairy tale. It really focuses on a dark side of that genre that is overlooked. However, that said – while it is heartbreaking, there’s comical moments too. Atmospheric, haunting, beautiful and captivating are some other keywords I’d use to describe the writing in this book.
The world building was incredible. What was presented in such a short number of pages was amazing. Seanan McGuire created so many worlds and back stories.There were Nonsensical worlds and Logical worlds, among others, and each character had such a distinctive voice. None of it felt rushed. I can normally predict mysteries, but I didn’t get this one until a couple chapters before the reveal.
This book was everything I wanted and more. I can not recommend it enough. I am so excited for the second book!
(This is a new feature I’ve decided to add to reviews when I feel inspired because books + music = my 2 fave things)