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Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children Book 1) by [Seanan McGuire]

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Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 3,002 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

This new story from a veteran fantasy author offers writing that's full of imagery and evocative emotions and helps build suspense from the very first sentence. Behind the titular doorway lie alternate worlds, some magical, some dangerous, and some both. The children, mostly girls, who go through the doors become irrevocably changed, many of them becoming mature beyond their actual years. When they return to the real world, their families and friends no longer understand them. And some, like Nancy, want desperately to return to their alternate world, where they felt welcomed and loved. Eleanor West was once a young traveler to those worlds, and now she runs a home for these wayward children, helping them adjust to reality. Just as Nancy begins to make a place for herself, a puzzling and gruesome series of murders threaten the students and the home's very existence. The characters are well drawn, and their feelings about their impossible situation are believable. The alienation they experience and their struggles to find a way back will appeal to teens. When the murderer is revealed, the motivation will be understood by characters and readers alike. VERDICT Though short (this tale is more novella than novel), this clever inside out fantasy will intrigue fantasy fans and those who loved Ransom Riggs's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.—Gretchen Crowley, Alexandria City Public Libraries, VA --This text refers to the hardcover edition.


"A jewel of a book that deserves to be shelved with Lewis Carroll's and C. S. Lewis' classics, even as it carves its own precocious space between them." ―NPR

"This is a gorgeous story: sometimes mean, sometimes angry, and always exciting" ―Cory Doctorow for

"McGuire's lyrical prose makes this novella a rich experience." ―
Library Journal starred review

"This amazing fantasy pierces the shimmering veil of childhood imagination by reminding adult readers that their own doorways still exist deep in the champers of their all-too-human hearts." ―
Booklist starred review

"This gothic charmer is a love letter to anyone who's ever felt out of place." ―
Publishers Weekly

"This gothic novel is ideal for fantasy fans who have longed for a world of their own, as well as readers looking for books with diverse casts." ―

Girl Interrupted meets Grimm's Fairy Tales. Let it in and it will touch your heart and open your mind.” ―Geek Syndicate

"The broken doors are open, and you should come and enter.
Every Heart a Doorway feels like home." ―B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog

--This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00XHHV3YK
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Tordotcom (April 5, 2016)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ April 5, 2016
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 3107 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 174 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 3,002 ratings

About the author

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Seanan McGuire is a native Californian, which has resulted in her being exceedingly laid-back about venomous wildlife, and terrified of weather. When not writing urban fantasy (as herself) and science fiction thrillers (as Mira Grant), she likes to watch way too many horror movies, wander around in swamps, record albums of original music, and harass her cats.

Seanan is the author of the October Daye, InCryptid, and Indexing series of urban fantasies; the Newsflesh trilogy; the Parasitology duology; and the "Velveteen vs." superhero shorts. Her cats, Lilly, Alice, and Thomas, are plotting world domination even as we speak, but are easily distracted by feathers on sticks, so mankind is probably safe. For now.

Seanan's favorite things include the X-Men, folklore, and the Black Death. No, seriously. She writes all biographies in the third person, because it's easier that way.

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
3,002 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 31, 2018
4 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 1, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars MAGICAL, PERFECT
By Cassie Lola on June 1, 2020
If there is any book recommendation you take from knowing me or from reading my blog, please let it be this book & this series as a whole. I can’t fully express what it means to me, but I am damn sure going to try for the sake of this review! Every Heart a Doorway is the first book in the Wayward Children series, which currently consists of 5 books (but has recently announced a 6th!). It’s hard to categorize these books by genre, so I won’t. I will say that you should read them, whether you’re a fan of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, or something else – they’re incredible.

We’re all familiar with ‘portal worlds’, right? Think Narnia or Alice in Wonderland – places that are accessible only via a specific portal that opens and allows the protagonist to travel through it. Now imagine our real world existing alongside these portal worlds, where children are often lost to them to live out grand adventures and risk everything. And then imagine our real world, where some of these children come back. In the same way that the horror genre’s beloved final girls are changed irrevocably by their experiences, so too are the children coming back from these worlds. For some, who had found places they belonged for the first time in their lives through these travels, the return can be an extremely unpleasant experience.

Enter Miss Eleanor West, and her school for these Wayward children. Offering a safe place where their travels are discussed via group therapy sessions rather than the homes where they’ve been met with disbelief and disapproving looks, many of these children find solace here, and are given space to readjust after their adventures in these other places. But what happens when that safe haven is threatened?

This book technically qualifies as a novella, as does every other book in the series. While short, the books are incredibly thought provoking, offering some really pristine moments of wisdom that are applicable both in these fantastic stories, as well as in our real life society today.

One of my favorite parts about these books is the incredibly diverse representation that we see in the characters. One of the main themes of the series is individuality, and the understanding that sometimes the roles you’re born into or that are expected from you, aren’t the roles where you’re going to thrive. The children in Eleanor’s home all found other worlds where they grew as people, and sometimes even lived full lives – even if just a matter of months had passed in the real world. Where these kids struggled under societal pressures and obligations in the real world, they found freedom and truth in their portal lands – and, like with people in our society, our personal truths are specific to each of us.

I don’t want to spoil too much, but I believe it’s important to convey how extensive the representation here is. There is incredible diversity in the sexualities, the races, and the genders of all of our characters, which is such a pleasure to read – it’s much more like the real world than some extremely white-focused books that feel more like a Sweet Valley High rerun than a believable story.

Our main protagonist is an asexual girl who struggles with her return from the dark, still Halls of the Dead; her roommate is a tree climbing, colorful, energetic bisexual Japanese girl from a magical sugar land that exists in a state of constant, whimsical, nonsensical flux. The number of ace characters in modern literature is still woefully limited, and neither asexuality nor aromanticism are given enough of a focus to make them as well-known orientations as some others that readers may be more familiar with, so having these topics discussed, explained, and talked about in a way that fits in with the plot and story was great. Other characters include a trans boy that discovers himself during his time in his portal world, and the list of great characters just keeps growing.

I’m going to review each of the books in the series individually at some point on my blog, but honestly, I recommend the series as a whole. It’s well-written, and each book expands upon the first, creating a more robust world and characters each time you visit Seanan McGuire’s writing. This is my most recommended book and book series for a reason: it’s wonderful!
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Top reviews from other countries

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on September 19, 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on September 19, 2022
“Every heart a doorway” - Seanan McGuire.

~ What happens after ‘Ever after’…? Together, they walked across the property; The girl, the boy, and the dancing skeleton wrapped in rainbows. Neither of those who still possessed tissue, and tongue, spoke. This was the closest thing Loriel would have to a funeral; It would have been inappropriate to make light of it. They walked until they came to the place where the landscaping dropped away, replaced by tangle, and weed, and the hard stretch of stony earth that had never been farmed, or claimed as anything other than wilderness. Eleanor West owned it all, of course; Her family had owned the countryside for miles around, and now that she was the last, every inch of it belonged to her. She simply refused to sell, or allow development on any of the lots surrounding her school. The local conservationists considered her a hero. The local capitalists considered her an enemy. Some of her greatest detractors said she acted like a woman with something to hide, and they were right, in their way; She was a woman with something to protect. That made her more dangerous than they could ever have suspected. ~

Book is in wonderful condition, with upper blurb on the back (Excerpt of story), and following blurb on inner page of dust cover.

~ 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 magical 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. Each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. 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 things. No matter the cost. ~
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3.0 out of 5 stars How many pages?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on November 16, 2018
2 people found this helpful
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Susan Stepney
4.0 out of 5 stars what happens when you come back from fairyland?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on January 1, 2017
7 people found this helpful
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Umut Rados
3.0 out of 5 stars Creative Story with Flaws
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on February 3, 2018
2 people found this helpful
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Polly Morgan
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical, whimsical and dark!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 19, 2021
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