Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
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 the matter.
No matter the cost.
TW: gore, transphobia
Wow this was pretty amazing. I originally tried reading Every Heart a Doorway sometime last year and I ended up DNFing it because I couldn't get into it. But then as the months went by I was seeing more and more raving reviews on the internet so I finally decided I needed to give it another try soon. Finally, that has happened and I am so happy I decided to give it another shot!
The characters are by far the best part of this story. I love Nancy so much as a main character. Her door/world that she went into sounds so interesting and I am definitely interested in learning more about the Halls of the Dead. Nancy is asexual, a sexuality we unfortunately don't see enough in literature so it was really cool to read an asexual character. Especially for someone like me who is demisexual, so I am on the asexual spectrum. I like that Nancy's asexuality is causal and not the only thing about her that makes her interesting. Same with our trans character, Kade. His trans identity is something he's open and unashamed about, but he is more interesting for other reasons too. I really loved his character. He's sweet and protective over his friends. I really loved his connection with Eleanor also. Eleanor is such a sweet leader who honestly reminded me of Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter. She was strict, but soft and loves her students. Christopher was a character I feel like I was most intrigued by when it came to the world he fell into. I loved the idea of his world (and Nancy's) and wish we got more of it. I also really loved Sumi, Jack, & Jill but I wish we got more of them because I didn't feel as connected to them as I did Nancy, Kade, and Christopher. The great thing about this cast of characters is that they easily become this really tight knit group. This book is so short I was worried a handful of characters would be too much to really get to know them and have them connect but I easily believed they were a little family.
The plot, although a lot of fun, definitely took a seat back behind the characters. Like I said earlier, the book is very short so we didn't have a lot of time to have a well developed plot. Especially since the characters took up so much of the time. However, the murder mystery definitely had me interested, even if the answer to the mystery was easy for me to guess. I didn't mind that all that much because I was still really enjoying the story and writing. I do think the biggest downfall to this book is the size. I think a longer book would have given the writer more time to really build the mystery but it would also give the reader more time with the characters, especially the ones we don't get a lot of.
The writing is so well done. It definitely takes talent to write such a short book and have the characters and world so well developed. The idea of kids going into magical worlds and having to come back to our normal world and deal with it is such an interesting concept. I never thought about how Alice, Wendy, the Pevensie siblings, etc would have to deal with such colorful (or not, in Nancy's case) memories and just wanting to go back to their world. I love the concept and it's done exceptionally well.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. I already have the sequel (or prequel I suppose, from what I've heard) on request at my local library so I cannot wait to continue the series. If you have ever dreamed, wished, ached to live in your favorite fictional worlds like Hogwarts, Wonderland, Neverland, Narnia, etc this book was written for you. If you have felt ridiculed for your love for fictional worlds, this book was written for you. It's gorgeous and I think it beautifully connects us dreamers together.