Well, this was an odd little book. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it. I think I’d requested it from the library long ago based on someone else’s CBR review, but I’d forgotten why.
I liken the experience of reading Every Heart a Doorway to reading The Library of Mount Char: it was a strange book, I had no idea where it was going, and some super fucked up things happened (though not quite as fucked up as Mount Char). I didn’t feel particularly drawn to any of the characters, but the world-building was interesting enough that I had a good time reading this. Still, I did feel that much of the book could have been fleshed out more. Honestly, I would have happily read a couple hundred more pages if it meant I got to spend some time in some of the other worlds, with characters I think I could grow to like if I’d been given more time with them. Alas, perhaps that’s what the sequels are for.
But before I get too far ahead of myself (too late), let’s talk a bit about this book. Eleanor West owns a strange school for special children. She draws children (mostly girls) to the school who’ve had strange experiences: they’ve all found hidden doors to other worlds. These worlds are divided into Nonsense and Logic worlds, and Virtue and Wicked worlds, with all sorts of combinations in between. Nancy is a new student to Eleanor’s school, sent there because she came back much different from her own special world, and her parents want the daughter they remember back. Meanwhile, Nancy, like the other children, is focused on finding the doorway back to her lost world. All children have come back from these worlds for one reason or another, but they all want to go back. Most, it’s explained, will never find these doorways again, but all hope to be the lucky one.
Soon after Nancy arrives, other students start turning up dead in horrifying ways. I found this more than a little jarring, not because it’s strange that this would happen (it makes total sense in the terms of the novel) but it seemed to happen so quickly after Nancy arrives and after the novel begins. Likewise, all subsequent murders (and the reveal of the killer) seem to happen abruptly. It all felt a bit rushed to me but again, this was just because I enjoyed the book and wanted more of it.
I did see that there are two other books in this series, one prequel and one sequel, though I’m not sure the sequel has been released yet. I’d be interested in reading these, for sure, but do hope that things are just a bit MORE in these other novels.