Every Heart A Doorway

Every Heart A Doorway

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:

Winner: 2017 Hugo Award
Winner: 2017 Alex Award
Winner: 2017 Locus Award
Winner: 2016 Nebula Award
Nominated: 2017 World Fantasy Award
Nominated: 2017 British Fantasy Award
2016 Tiptree Honor List

"A mini-masterpiece of portal fantasy -- a jewel of a book that deserves to be shelved with Lewis Carroll's and C. S. Lewis' classics" --NPR

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 things.

No matter the cost.

The Wayward Children Series
Book 1: Every Heart a Doorway
Book 2: Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Book 3: Beneath the Sugar Sky
Book 4: In an Absent Dream


"Seanan McGuire has long been one of the smartest writers around, and with this novella we can easily see that her heart is as big as her brain. We know this story isn't true, but it is truth." -- Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series (TV's True Blood )

" Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire is one of the most extraordinary stories I've ever read." -- V. E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author of A Gathering of Shadows

"Seanan McGuire once again demonstrates her intimate knowledge of the human heart in a powerful fable of loss, yearning and damaged children." -- Paul Cornell, author of London Falling and Witches of Lychford

"So mindblowingly good, it hurts." -- io9

"With Every Heart a Doorway , McGuire has created her own mini-masterpiece of portal fantasy -- 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

Publisher: New York, NY : Tom Doherty Associates, 2016.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780765385505
Branch Call Number: FANTASY MCGUIRE
Characteristics: 173 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

I read the first chapter of this and thought, "Well that's very intriguing," then promptly got more interested in four other books. But I love a novella, so this one will come back around for sure.

173 pages. A unique spin on the classic portal fantasy, that takes place *after* the characters return from a fairy tale world to the "real" world. A delightfully intersectional fantasy novella!

Best novella-- a touching story about what it means to move between worlds, for better or worse.

After Nancy vanishes into a fantasy world and returns home, she's sent to Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, a place for kids who have traveled to new worlds and lost their home in the process.

LPL_KimberlyL Aug 20, 2016

Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children is a boarding school (really, sanitorium) that welcomes children who have returned to the "real world" after visiting otherworlds through magical portals. This book takes place after the fairy tale, so while it isn't exactly full of magic, it is ... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Oct 11, 2018

This title is first in her "Wayward Children" series. Beautifully written, with just the right (creepy) tone for a story answering the question "What happens to Alice when she returns from Wonderland? .. to Dorothy after Oz? What happens to all the children who wandered away from the "other" world and now find themselves stranded in our reality?" Short, a little grisly, and unique.

Sep 21, 2018

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but I was very pleasantly surprised. This book was really cool. It is set at a school for children who have been to other worlds (Narnia style) and didn't want to come home. It is full of weird and wonderful characters and who have all been changed in some way by their travels. It deals with gender stereotypes and accepting people for who they are, as well as how these whacky kids deal with some gruesome murders.
Definitely worth a read
Love the ending

Jul 18, 2018

Smart, magical, and unique with refreshingly diverse characters.

OPL_KrisC Apr 13, 2018

I grew up wanting to travel to Narnia and other magical places so when I heard about this book from a colleague, I was very intrigued. I was immediately drawn into this book and finished it fairly quickly. I liked how each of the teens seemed to have traveled to a unique world that was different from the rest and how each of the worlds were categorized. As a fan of horror, I loved the dark twists inserted throughout and look forward to reading the next in the series.

SPPL_Kristen Mar 19, 2018

This book is incredibly sweet and a refreshing take on identity and belonging. Oh, and the murder part is lots of fun and suspenseful.

Mar 17, 2018

There was something magical about this that I adored. Not a book for everyone but I loved it dearly.

SCL_Justin Mar 12, 2018

On a colleague's recommendation I read this one after reading the second book in the series (Down Among the Sticks and Bones). In this order, I found Every Heart a Doorway disappointing. Perhaps because of the school setting it didn't have the fable/Gaimanish kind of feel that Sticks and Bones had, and while the slightness of the novella form worked well in Sticks and Bones, here I needed more; either more atmosphere or more plot.

That said, I enjoy the idea of the system of other worlds (which had a very Grossman's Magicians feel to it) with directions of Logic and Nonsense, Vitus and Morbidity. If I'd read this one first I think I would have liked it more but been disappointed with Down Among the Sticks and Bones. That book was Jack and Jill's story, but their story was already told in this book, just in a more matter of fact way. If I'd read Sticks and Bones second I'd be waiting for the reason why I was reading all this stuff I already knew, and I'm not sure the tone would have carried me through that annoyance.

But these are quick reads so I will most likely finish off the Wayward Children Trilogy.

Mar 11, 2018

This was a delightful read. Not much of a murder mystery, but full of ideas about totally alien worlds that bump into ours, and the children who are exiled from these imaginative alternate realities. As a novella, its shortness gives us mostly an overview of what could be a lengthy series about children and various universes. The story gives us an imaginative explanation of who can visit these worlds, and how they end up in the world that is just right for them. I passed the age of the target audience over a half century ago, but enjoyed it immensely.

Mar 06, 2018

There are many more books for isolated young people that previously, and that is a good thing. All that baby boomers had was "Huckleberry Finn" and "Catcher in the Rye" - which was just not enough. Seanan McGuire's novel contains isolation as a theme, but combined with fantasy. Really can't say much more than that without being a spoiler, except the book is lively and imaginative with, given its short length, many intriguing, well-drawn characters. The title makes it seem very "hearts-and-flowers" romantic, which it is not.

Jan 05, 2018

Originally i thought this would be one of those books that was extremely over hyped however i will say it was worth it. I absolutely loved this book. the characters, the plot, the setting! I especially loved the idea. I mean it is an interesting thought, where would all these characters that we love go after the leave their newly found worlds? Defiantly worth the read, also its a super short book, so that's always a plus

View All Comments


Add a Quote

Jun 05, 2018

The mountain was as powerful as the tide, just in a different way.

Jun 05, 2018

I’ve had rest enough to last a lifetime, and only a lifetime for the rest of what’s to be done.

Jun 05, 2018

We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.

Jun 05, 2018

You're nobody's rainbow. You're nobody's princess. You're nobody's doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.

Mar 15, 2018

"For us, the 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."

Mar 15, 2018

“We went down, and at the bottom there was a door, and on the door there was a sign. Two words. ‘Be Sure.’ Sure of what? We were twelve, we weren’t sure of anything. So we went through."

Mar 15, 2018

"This world is unforgiving and cruel to those it judges as even the slightest bit outside the norm."

Mar 15, 2018

"Hope means you keep on holding to things that won't ever be so again, and so you bleed an inch at a time until there's nothing left."

Mar 15, 2018

"Where did you find the whipped cream?” he asked. “You had milk, I had science,” said Jack. “It’s amazing how much of culinary achievement can be summarized by that sentence. Cheese making, for example. The perfect intersection of milk, science, and foolish disregard for the laws of nature."

JCLOctavia Apr 21, 2017

"Forget about words like 'Nonsense' and 'Logic'. We can work out those details later. Just answer. Where did you go?"

View All Quotes


Add Age Suitability

Oct 07, 2017

black_cat_3930 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jun 01, 2017

SilverIlix thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


Add a Summary

Aug 16, 2016

A long time ago, a little girl named Ely West found a doorway, and went on an adventure to a Nonsense world, where she was very happy, until one day she was too grown up to tolerate all the nonsense. Now Eleanor West runs a school for other children who have found doorways that led them home, only to be forced back into a mundane world where no one understands what happened to them. No one except Eleanor. The newest student at Eleanor’s school is Nancy Whitman, and she has just returned from the Halls of the Dead. After years spent perfecting the art of stillness for the Lord of the Dead, everything about this world seems too hot, and fast. Her parents insist on things being just like they were before, meaning colourful clothing, regular meals, and dates with boys, even though Nancy has realized she is asexual. So Nancy is sent to Eleanor’s school to recover from her “ordeal,” and there she meets other children who have had the same experiences. But soon after Nancy arrives, someone begins murdering students.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Related Authors


Subject Headings


Find it at LPL

To Top