Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan Maguire

“Every Heart A Doorway” by Seanan Maguire was a light, fun read but really rather disappointing. Even though it won like a billion fantasy awards. It has a really awesome premise. The main character is attending a school for those children (mostly girls) who find themselves drawn into- and then out of- other worlds, and helps them learn to cope with life in our world afterwards. And of course there’s lots of delicious little tidbits about the other worlds which is very interesting. So, with the premise being that tantalizing, your mind is racing and you’re like WOW, there’s so much amazing stuff that you could do with this, you want to know more, you want to read all about the other cool worlds and you’re really impressed by the vision and how the worlds are categorized. There’s High Nonsense, High Logic, High Magic, etc, like every possible fairyworld is possible to get to. And I mean, from a mental health standpoint, what DOES happen if you go to Narnia and you can’t ever go back? But the story ends up being just a basic murder mystery, so you’re like.. Eh…

The main character doesn’t even go through much of a journey on her way to the end of the book. I can’t REMEMBER HER NAME right now and I read it like three days ago. Lydia? Sarah? I honestly would have to find the book. So the main character is probably the least interesting of the cast, and doesn’t develop like, at all, but the other characters were various shades of cliche, and only Jack seems to make any forward progress. Every Heart A Doorway did have a diverse cast in the way of having one trans character (who was kicked out of a fairyland when they discovered he wasn’t a princess), the main character is asexual, and some other characters cross-dress. (And one of them has a girlfriend who is a skeleton ……???) It ends up being like a buddy-buddy team up to uncover the mystery, (and dispose of some bodies), and then at the end (TOTAL SPOILERS), Lydia/sarah/main girl, ends up going back through her doorway (fairyland portal or whatever) to the Halls of the Dead where she will be happy(?).  I even feel kind of guilty ragging on the book, like maybe I should just appreciate it for what it was? But you’re like OMGGG, the potential, the whole time you’re reading it.

So even though it’s like a quick light romp (if you don’t count the brutal murders), there’s obviously some heavy themes as people are coping with being totally unable to return to a place that really resonated with them.Mostly their parents think they are actually insane after their experiences, so that’s pretty rough. But the themes were presented heavy handedly imo so you’re like rolling your eyes.

It reminded me of heavily of The Invisible Library series, with their ordering of different worlds as High Reason/High Chaos, and obviously of the Magicians, and Quinn’s obsession with returning to Fillory. The Invisible Library is of a similar quality (like- just not that good? but still enjoyable?) and The Magicians is much better but not YA. Every Heart a Doorway is like YA quality/text but .. brutal murders, lots of ’em, so I’m not even sure how to classify it.

 

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