I’m far cry from fantasy fans – yes, of course I’ve read some classics by authors such as J. K. Rowling, C. S. Lewis or Neil Gaiman, but that’s pretty much it (although admittedly I feel little bit awkward for not having read anything by J. R. R. Tolkien). On the other hand from time to time I enjoy a good mystery and voilà; Every Heart a Doorway landed in my Kindle.
The story is set in Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, a boarding school for children who entered mystical lands and eventually came back. Who did not want to find a secret door into the different world, or find another reality behind the mirror? Probably no one, same as no one ever thought about the possibility ever getting back – and feeling misplaced. However this sanctuary is full of these teenagers, regretting their decisions about returning, or feeling desperate, as they are forever denied access back to the lands where they felt at home. Every Heart a Doorway is a story of misunderstood youngsters, secret places, weird skills and tragic events occurring at Eleanor West’s Home, where everyone should feel safe. Who is murdering children and moreover takes their most valued/loved pieces of them? And how to handle following public affairs?
I love how Seanan transformed fact of children disappearing into something less tragic and more magic event. While parents of kids believe they’ve been kidnapped or hurt, characters in Every Heart a Doorway are well alive in fantasy lands of various characters. I would love to believe that at least few of disappeared children ended up somewhere being happy, heathy and safe, with possibility to return whenever they feel like it. This allegorical approach made me appreciate this book even more, together with emphasis on concept that some things may be just in front of us, yet we overlook them by searching and that another things are simply not meant to be (repeated). Although I know this wasn’t Seanan’s objective, but still brings to my mind our chase for dreams, goals and relationships without giving it more space and time to see what may come, because actually not everything depends on us.
Elements of social class division within the school itself portrays poignantly the reality of most educational institutions, where some kids/youngsters are worth more than the others, and where being different does not pay off. And hello – did I mention there is also a trans boy everybody admires and incredibly clever tomboy? Oh, plus the main character is asexual?? Thank god for placing such characters in a book, which I believe will gain a brilliant reputation regardless of its length.
Honestly, I can’t wait to read more by Seanan; may it be another sequel of Every Heart a Doorway, or her highly rated October Daye series. Her sense for details and skilful combination of personal stories with, less important, social and political topics is fabulous. A very pleasant surprise and a delightful book for all lovers of dark atmosphere, remarkable characters and creepy suspense.