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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Review: Every Heart a Doorway

I was disappointed by Seanan McGuire's previous books that were reviewed here on this blog. Her narrators have always seemed too flippant for me. What's great about McGuire, however, is that her concepts are always great. In short, she has (for me, anyway), great elevator pitches for her novels but lousy follow-through on the implementation.

Every Heart A Doorway, however, has such a great elevator pitch I checked out the book from the library despite my previous history with her novels. I'm glad I did, because just this once, the implementation is decent.

Part of it is that the novel is short (175 pages), so the pace is very fast. The elevator pitch for the novel is: "Girl walks through fantasy portal into another world, has adventures, gets kicked out of fantasy world, and now has to go through rehab for PTSD induced by said fantasy world adventures."

The novel's setting is Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, a boarding school for kids who've been through adventures in an alternate world and a dumping ground for the parents who can no longer reconcile themselves to their changed children. Eleanor West, the school mistress, was herself one of those kids, and her school markets itself to parents by claiming to provide special therapy.

In reality, of course, the school is a place where the kids themselves can feel at home because they can relate to other children who've had similar adventures. The novel's protagonist is Nancy, a girl who's been to the Land of the Dead and is now returned to the world of the living but discover that her new manner and fashion preferences are not those that her parents want.

Through the protagonist, we learn how such as school is structured, a classification of the fantasy worlds in which the kids have been to, and of course, the messy social structure the kids themselves have as a result of their adventures, forming into cliques that are driven by which type of world they've come to call home.

There's a central plot and overarching storyline in the middle of all this, the pace is fast, and the extrapolation of the elevator pitch admirable. This novel is a lot of fun, and redeems McGuire's previous misses in my eyes. Recommended!

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