‘You found freedom, if only for a moment, and when you lost it, you came here, hoping it could be found again.’ (98)
This book seems to be almost like a Miss Peregrine 2.0 as these children are also quite peculiar and who face a darkness which threatens their way of life. While it may seem quite similar, the book has much more diversity, is incredibly atmospheric, and one of the saddest moments was when I wanted more by the end of it.
Every Heart a Doorwary is a whimsical tale of children who have returned from magical worlds forever changed and not accepted by society or their families. Feeling out of place, they long to return back and find a temporary home at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Nancy is one such child, returned from an Underworld (like Hades and Persephone, not Kate Beckinsale) like world, and soon after disaster strikes. It is up to her band of friends and their particular skills to figure out who the culprit is and what the sinister plan is behind all of the chaos.
There was still something unfinished around her eyes; she wasn’t done yet. She was a story, not an epilogue. And if she chose to narrate her own life one word at a time as she descended the stairs to meet her newest arrival, that wasn’t hurting anyone. Narration was a hard habit to break, after all. Sometimes it was all a body had. (17)
If you’re familiar with Miss Peregrine’s House for Peculiar Children, then you would know more of the plot than I tease. It’s not an exact lookalike, but the inspiration is impossible to miss if you’re familiar with both. However, this is not a drawback, for this story is much more diverse and the darkness more intimate. Whereas one is about power, this is about the aching we have to return home.
‘Hope is a knife that can cut through the foundations of the world.’ (29)
Most of the characters share this ache to return home and it’s what is compelling, in my opinion, about them. They are an interesting bunch, having gone to a variety of worlds, they return forever changed – little portraits of their worlds. Individually, they are fascinating, but we see the world through Nancy’s eyes. And they are all pretty diverse!
‘We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.’ (59)
Nancy, as a character, was interesting, but she did not have me rooting for her. She is a sympathetic enough character, unprepared for the world of the living, and longing to go back, but I never really felt connected to her. Nancy is asexual, which was great to read, which was a plus one in my book, in terms of diversity. But I had trouble connecting with her on an emotional level. I understood her desire to return home and that longing she has, but that was the same for most of the characters.
The whole novella is written well too. It is elegant, atmospheric, and descriptive. I loved reading about the different worlds and the children. But my major complaint, which trumped Nancy, was that the murder mystery at the end was hastily wrapped up. There was not enough suspense and it just felt abruptly concluded. I wish there had been more time in between and in general, I wanted more, in both a positive and negative way. Negative in that I think to do the mystery justice it needed some more time. Positive because I really enjoyed reading this and would have just wanted more of it: more description of the children’s worlds, more perspectives of the children.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Everything from the angle, to the fascinating characters, and to this universal ache, and connection, I felt to the children who just want to go home. They all hope, with all their heart, to find their doorway home. In this respect, I adored the ending. We all want to go home, to feel like we are in a place where we belong, are accepted, and where the rules of the world make sense. It’s a terrible feeling to feel out of place and this book’s greatest strength is making us feel their quiet desperation to return. We feel their aching hearts.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Miss Peregrine, to those who got lost in magical worlds, and to anyone who has ever felt truly alone, misplaced, and longing for home. You can buy it here on Amazon, add it to Goodreads (cover image from here), and visit the author’s site.
Let’s Discuss: What kind of world would you want to find on the other side of your door?
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