In Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway, kids are being reformed at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Eleanor’s students have been to magical worlds, through doors opened only to them, and they’re having a hard time adjusting to being back. Most want to return to their magical worlds and leave ours behind, but their doors have disappeared. Not long after our heroine Nancy arrives at the school, students turn up dead and Eleanor’s is on the brink of closing. Can they discover the murderer and save the school?
With a description like that, Every Heart a Doorway sounded like it’d be in my wheelhouse, but I’m left feeling empty. This is a short novella and I think it would benefit from being much longer.
When Nancy arrives at the school, she meets some students and we’re told that they take classes to try to help them adjust and forget the magical worlds they visited. The amount of classes and teachers we see you could miss if you blink, because not long after Nancy arrives there’s a murder and classes are canceled. What’s fun about that?
I was ready for an interesting school with students, teachers, classes, assignments, and a further exploration of magical worlds. This doesn’t feel like a school as much as just a large house with lots of people living in it, and the people in this house are partaking in one of those mystery dinners with an easy-to-solve murder.
I really loved the ideas of the premise, the setting, and the mystery, but these ideas didn’t have enough room to grow. I would’ve loved this if the world were further examined, but with what we have here I’m left cold.