This weekend, I had the immense pleasure of turning 30 and then immediately throwing out my back. It was exactly as much fun as you can imagine. Lying on the couch with no WiFi for hours on end until the repairman could come out. Staring into the void and pondering life’s great questions: Why are we here? Why do we love? Where does that other sock always disappear to?
Bright side, my Kindle was fully charged and loaded with unread books. I’m way behind on my reading for the year–like I need to read eight books in three weeks to catch up behind–so I figured there was no time like the present.
In my muscle relaxer haze, I started Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.
I’m going to caution you REAL fast. DO NOT READ THIS PARTICULAR BOOK ON A MUSCLE RELAXER. IT WILL NOT BE PRETTY. WHAT DID I DO?
Every Heart a Doorway is a quick read. Seriously. An hour and a half to two hours, if you’re not also enjoying a technicolor joyride of pure, medicated bliss. If you do happen to be falling asleep every few pages, then it may take you longer.
The premise of the book is interesting and captivating and totally not my style, except that it has been recommended highly by literally every one of my favorite book podcasts.
Every Heart a Doorway is about a boarding school for children who have through doorways into other worlds. They have all found their own Narnias, Wonderlands, and 100 Acre Woods in which to dwell. They have also all been unceremoniously forced back into our world.
This school, run by Eleanor West, functions as a support group and rehabilitation center for the victims of Doorway travel. They are taught how to reintegrate with our world and how to deal with the loss of their Doors. The students are offered a loving environment surrounded by people like them, in which to recover from the experiences and learn how to deal with the shock of being sent back.
For a short book, it’s really a complex concept that was beautifully executed.
The story focuses on Nancy, a girl who has recently returned from The Hall of The Dead. From the beginning, the reader gets the sense that Nancy is desperate to return. Nancy is forced to room with a girl named Sumi who seems to be Nancy’s complete opposite. Nancy is describe as statue-like in her stillness, while Sumi is always in motion.
Just as Nancy starts to settle into the school, Sumi is murdered and dark events are set into motion.
I really enjoyed Every Heart a Doorway. It was fast paced and concise. There’s something nice about concision, especially when you need a quick read. McGuire is very conservative with the details in this book and with the character selection of this book. While we get the feeling that the school has a fairly large student body, only the students who are directly involved in the story are mentioned. There are no wasted words for peripheral characters.
I was captivated by this premise. There was something very clinical about McGuire’s presentation of it. It almost read like an allegory for something greater, for some conversation about mental health. There were layers to this very short novel that made me want more, and somehow feel completely satisfied with what it gave me. Maybe that’s the muscle relaxers talking. But still, I loved every minute of it.
3.5 stars. It was a fast, but not light read. It was a well-spent afternoon. Nothing life changing. Nothing world altering. But good.