Every Heart a Doorway
(The Wayward Children series, Book 1)
Fiction, YA? Fantasy
DESCRIPTION: Once upon a time, a girl (or a boy) discovered a doorway to a magical world. Here, they had many adventures and learned many things - but, one day, they found themselves returned to the land of their birth. It was a harsh land, a strange land, and it was no longer home, as they were no longer the children they used to be. Some went insane. Some swallowed their memories until they convinced themselves it had all been a dream. But some found their way to a special boarding school, where the headmistress helped them process their adventures and learn to cope with the knowledge that, try as they might, they probably will never find their way back to the kingdoms of fairies or the moors of vampires. Because the headmistress, Eleanor West, was once a girl who found a doorway, herself.
Nancy arrives at Eleanor West's school with hair bleached white from the touch of the Lord of Death and a suitcase packed with offensively colorful clothes by parents who just want their lost "rainbow" girl back. Rooming with Sumi, whose adventures in a Nonsense realm left an indelible mark on her personality, she struggles to adapt, even as she refuses to give up hope of returning to the Halls of the Dead. Soon after her arrival, students start dying, gruesomely mutilated - and almost everybody suspects the new girl who once danced with the Lord of Death.
This novella includes sample chapters from Down Among the Sticks and Bones, the next volume in the Wayward Children series.
REVIEW: Every Heart a Doorway, a 2016 Nebula award winner, examines the psychological impact of portal adventures, the one many authors tend to gloss over or leave out. If you really had been to another world, if you really had been apprenticed to a mad scientist or courted by the Skeleton Girl or learned to run on rainbows, how could you ever return to our mundane Earth, with its immutable physics and linear time? McGuire creates an unexpected cast of decently-rounded characters, hinting at all manner of worlds from all over the map, a map whose compass includes such cardinal directions as Nonsense and Logic and Virtuous and Wicked. It's harsh and bleak and beautiful all at once, with hope being both a cruelty and a comfort. I quite enjoyed it, and will likely read more titles in this series as they appear.
As a closing note, I suppose this could be classified as a Teen title, given the age of
the main characters, but the subject matter and overall tone bleed over
into the adult end of the spectrum, and it's as much about mourning the
loss of childhood as it is about magical worlds. So I gave it a split age rating.
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