She Was A Story, Not An Epilogue // Review: Every Heart A Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire


Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1)Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Pages: 173
Buy: AmazonBook Depository
Follow Seanan McGuire on Twitter

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

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.

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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.

“For us, places we went were home. We didn’t care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. We cared about the fact that for the first time, we didn’t have to pretend to be something we weren’t. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world.”

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)

Have you read Every Heart A Doorway? Or is it on your TBR?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I hope you’re all having a magical day xx

P.S Don’t forget to check out the details to my Halloween Read-A-Thon

47 thoughts on “She Was A Story, Not An Epilogue // Review: Every Heart A Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire

  1. Okay, if you could see my FACE while I read this review, you’d be stunned and maybe a bit scared cause I was like, I WANT THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. I still am. Why does no one thought of focusing on the after?! I’m SO glad this book exists, it sounds absolutely unique, diverse and just incredible. You really got me with your review, Lauren, and no need for an English degree, being a writer or just anything to convince someone to read a book. Just be yourself and share the love, it works perfectly well. I’m off to Goodreads now 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great review Lauren, and you’ve really made me want to read this book even more than I did before. Every Heart a Doorway has been on my to-read list since I saw another glowing review for it but I kind of forgot it was there until I saw your review, now I really need to pick this book up ASAP. It sounds like just a beautiful story with amazing characters and wonderful writing. I love that it is so diverse, I’ve never read a book with an asexual character in, in fact are there even any out there? Also the fact that you said the world-building is incredible is a real draw for me as well because that is always a must for me with fantasy books.
    I can’t believe such a brilliant novel is packed into less than 200 pages but god I need to read it as soon as possible! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Beth! The only other book that I really know of with an asexual main character is called We Awaken by by Calista Lynne! It was such a surprise how much was in the book for it’s size! It all felt really natural too. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do ♥

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a great review! I’ve seen this book around booktube and I’ve never picked it up, but you’ve totally convinced me that I need to read this! It sounds incredible, and I love the quotes you’ve included. It’s so great that it’s diverse too, I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book where the character is explicitly asexual. I’m so intrigued by the fact that it’s so short, I’m always amazed by authors who can pack so much into so few pages.
    Thanks for such a fantastic review! I’ll definitely be picking this up at some point in the future 🙂


    1. Thanks so much, Amy ♥ Right! I only know of one other book with an asexual main character called We Awaken by Calista Lynne (I haven’t read it yet so I don’t know how it’s presented), but it was so brilliant seeing it be outright stated. And yes, I definitely share that amazement too! This all felt really natural too, nothing was forced. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow great review! You’ve definitely convinced me to pick up this book now, English degree or not haha! (You don’t need one to write good reviews, and yours are always good). For some reason, I haven’t been that interested in it but I don’t think I took the time to really learn what it was about. Now I’m excited to read it and it’s great to hear that it’s diverse too. Also, I love “To Build A Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra, it’s been a favourite song of mine for years. And it also gives me a really good feeling of what this book is going to be like!


  5. This book sounds utterly AMAZING and WONDERFUL and MAGICAL. And I desperately need this right now. I actually hadn’t heard of this book until I read this review, so I am going to add it to my Goodreads to-be-read shelf. This is such a fantastic review, Lauren. I can definitely tell that you loved this book and I am so happy that you found a book that touched you on such a personal, emotional level. That is so beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really was all of those things! Yay! I’m so glad I was able to introduce you to it. I really hope you love it as much as I did ♥ It was definitely such an indescribable feeling and made me even more glad I decided to start reading again.


  6. Love the header, Lauren! Looks almost exactly like the book cover. ❤

    Also I wasn't halfway down your review when I was like YES, 100% CONVINCED, GETTING THIS BOOK ASAP. It sounds magical and wonderful, and it's great that it also features some diverse narratives. I'm definitely checking it out to see if I can get it somewhere.


  7. Amazing review! I’ve wanted to read this for SO long, I even have it on my kindle but I just haven’t picked it up yet 😢 I didn’t know that this book was so diverse, and it’s good to know that so maybe now I’ll finally pick this up.
    Also, I love the idea of adding a Playlist to your reviews!! And I absolutely love To Build A Home 💕


  8. Great review!! I’m glad to see you found yourself and love this book so much ❤ that level of enthusiasm really makes me want to read this book haha the quotes you put sound really interesting and I have to add this book to my TBR! 😀


  9. The second you started talking about how this book was for people who had wished Hogwarts was real or that Narnia existed I was sold. I remember being 8 years old and truly believing both places existed only to grow up and know that they don’t but still wish they did. And a part of me still hopes that one day I’ll be whisked away on an adventure, which is probably why I love fantasy books so much. Also, I love the diversity aspect. It’s so amazing that you found a book that really spoke to you! Like you said, everyone deserves to feel that. I’m officially adding this to my TBR. Lovely review, Lauren! ♥


  10. I actually didn’t know about this book, but the summary and your review have just completely sold it to me. Adding it to my TBR, and at the very top of it 🙂
    Also, yes to the playlist! Such a good idea!


  11. Great review I gave this one 4.5 stars and basically my complaint was I just didn’t want it to end, I wanted more more more. I guess that’s actually a good thing though really. 🙂


  12. I love, love, LOVE this review! If I didn’t already look out for your first post those first three lines would have had me hooked straight away, anyway. 😉 I’ve heard bits and pieces about this book but haven’t seen many reviews, so I’m glad you’ve taken the time to post one. 🙂 It’s also really, really awesome that it touches on an area of diversity that is SO lacking in literature as a whole. I’m glad it struck a chord with you – undoubtedly tonnes of people will identify with this but even those who don’t will be able to learn something it seems. 🙂 Also, dark, whimsical writing ftw! Can’t wait to read this. x


    1. Aww, thank you so much Sammie! I’ve honestly never wrote a review so quickly after finishing a book, tbh. I was so excited to share my feelings and make everyone aware. It was so great seeing something I identify with being represented. I really hope you enjoy this as much as I did ♥

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pleasure! ❤ I'm so glad that you loved it so much. I've heard good things about it here and there but nothing as in-depth as what you wrote. Your review made me 100% sure that I'm going to read this book at some point! I'm also really glad that you found some positive representation in an awesome book. That's so important. Thank you! Hopefully I will. 🙂 xx


  13. I love the sound of the diversity in this one and how magical it sounds! I borrowed it out from the library and will read it ASAP, I’m so glad that you found something that you could identify with it from it as well. Lovely review Lauren!


  14. This one has been on my TBR since release day. Glad to hear you loved it! You may also enjoy the Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland which also touches upon the same premise. I highly recommend it.


  15. I officially just wanna throw all the McGuire books at you & make you read them now that I know you loved this one. But they’re different than this, so I dunno. But you’ve written a wonderful review! It’s amazing when a book gives you literally every feel ever & makes you feel at home. I’m so glad you found yourself within its pages & that bastille is on your playlist. 😀 ♡♡♡


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