Every Heart a Doorway

March 20, 2017 at 5:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

doorwayEvery Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire


Most of us feel nostalgia for our younger selves, but how much stronger would that nostalgia be if our younger selves were able to go to places like Narnia or Oz or Wonderland? How would we feel later, when we returned to the boring drudgery of the real world? Would we wish to return? Would we never look back? How would we adjust to real life once again? Seanan McGuire examines those very questions with Every Heart a Doorway.

First things first: McGuire is an outstanding writer. Her turns of phrase are poetic, her observations of human behavior are astute, and her characterization skills are deft. She builds this world — our world, yes, but one populated with these parallel universes — so perfectly, so succinctly, that you get drawn in within just a few pages. The idea behind this novella is golden, especially to anyone who spent a lot of time in those fictional worlds growing up, and when I first heard about it, I knew I had to read it.

Narratively, the story lives up to my expectations; plot-wise, it’s not quite what I was hoping it would be. One of the problems with a high-concept story like this is having a plot that supports it. McGuire hits it just perfectly, building up these fantasy worlds to create a conflict that makes sense, but then she rushes through the events. It doesn’t feel like it has enough time to build up the proper tension, like it’s just hitting its stride for a longer development when the big reveal comes through, and it feels premature. I know Tor has built up a strong reputation for its line of novellas, and maybe McGuire was trying to force this story to fit that line, but it almost feels like this should have been a full-length novel.

Anyone who finds their interest piqued by the summary of this book should read it. It will be right up their alley. Just be prepared for the sudden ending.

Unfortunate Musical Connection: “Every Sperm is Sacred” by Monty Python

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