It’s been a few days since I finished Every Heart a Doorway. I can’t help but still think about it. It’s one of those stories that just sticks with you, makes you think.
It’s about a girl named Nancy who disappeared into another world, an underworld most likely. Her parents, who don’t really know what happened other than that Nancy disappeared, send her away to school. Nancy’s new school isn’t what she’d expected. After being dropped off (rather unceremoniously), Nancy realizes her schoolmates are all like her: children sent off to fairylands and underworlds and magical places only to be sent back to their homes where no one can understand them.
The story is just so sad, in a good way.
It’s all about being left behind, not fitting in, and wanting, wanting something that you know you’ll never get so badly your heart breaks.
Each student had at one point found a world where they belonged. The worlds range the gambit from “high logic” to “high nonsense” and “wicked” to “virtuous.” All of the students describe their trips into these worlds as having gone home for the first time. Being there comes with a sense of utter belonging. This would be fine by itself, but McGuire echoes the loss in the setting she creates. The school is whimsical and filled with mystery, but that all falls a bit flat. Despite free reign of the grounds and rooms chock full of color, the students can’t seem to recover, and neither do we.
From the very beginning, the students make it clear: they will almost certainly never go back, and hope, while all they may have, is more painful than the despair that follows.
In a way, reading the story is eerie. But, what surprised me most was how much it fit. How could Wendy really go back after Neverland? Could Lucy and Edmond really approach the “real” world the same way after Narnia?
It was the fairytale ending I was wanting.
The children are all a mess. They’re too old for their bodies, fixated on what they’ve lost, and lonely, even among the only people who can really understand them. Each one of them gets their own backstory and personality. Even the crueler among them is humanized, shown to be a bit broken. That’s part of what makes the story painful.
The setting is humorous in its own way. The teachers are all former student, the kids have to go to group therapy, rumors and gossip abound. There’s no escape from cliques even in fairyland exile.
The plot also has some action. While it can seem a slow build, tragedy strikes. Murder and mystery descend. Nancy, of course, is suspect, being from an underworld and the newest student. The action itself leads to heartbreak. It has a bittersweetness that it adds to the story.
At the end, I felt that I knew the characters, like I’d bonded with them and felt their hopes and dreams. Hats off to you, Ms. McGuire.
Every Heart a Doorway will be out April 5th 2016.
I received a copy of Every Heart a Doorway for free in exchange for an honest review.
So, I haven’t done much today.
I was going to go to the library. I want to pick up an audio copy of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. It’s about three hours long and perfect for chores around the house.
I went to Half Price Books and picked up a copy of the final two books in Mira Grant’s (Seanan McGuire) Newsflesh series.
I also am starting Pretty Deadly, a graphic novel published by Image Comics.
I haven’t read hardly anything today and will do better tomorrow. Do you ever have a problem starting read-a-thons?
Parasite by Mira Grant (read: Seanan McGuire) is up this year for the Hugo Awards (Get it here). It’s McGuire’s sixth Hugo nomination, and, I’m just going to say that if she doesn’t get it, I’ll be pretty disappointed (though Wheel of Time is a brute force in this game and Ancillary Justice has been winning all of the awards).
There’s a lot going on in Parasite. So, let’s set the stage.
About forty years from now, the world’s medicinal care is largely taken care of by “Intestinal Bodyguards,” tapeworms that secrete medicine ranging from high blood pressure medication to birth control. They’ve been credited with eradicating most illnesses and allergies. SymboGen, the Intestinal Bodyguard creators, are a huge force, ruling over the market and the health care field.
Their golden girl is Sal. After spending years in a coma, her family was going to pull the plug; everyone told them she would never wake up. But, when they take her off life support, Sal wakes up. Her Intestinal Bodyguard had saved her. Granted, she has no memory of her former life, but she’s alive, and by all accounts much nicer. She’s got a job working with animals and a nice doctor boyfriend. The only problem in her life now is that SymboGen is constantly monitoring her.
Then everything goes crazy. People, seemingly at random, start sleepwalking. They’ll be going about their daily business and then all of a sudden, no one’s home. The sleepwalking sickness doesn’t seem to have any pattern, source, or cure. What’s worse, it’s victims are starting to become violent. And, they want Sal.
The characters in this novel are well written. Though the dialogue sometimes gets a little too aware and pushes the wittiness, the characters have clear and relate-able motives and they felt very real. Though some aspects were, at times, a bit over-emphasized, you knew it was intentional and McGuire made sure to balance the characters overall.
The plot was believable and extremely well researched. It wasn’t ever overly suspenseful, but it maintained a steadily increasing sense of wrong-ness about the sleeping sickness and SymboGen. It left off on a cliff hanger after multiple plot twists. (The big one I saw coming.) I’m glad it’s only a few months to wait for the follow-up novel, Symbiont.
4.5 out of 5, easily.