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Summary

Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions - slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere...else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced...they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her newfound schoolmates to get to the heart of things. No matter the cost.

©2016 Seanan McGuire (P)2016 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

"Seanan McGuire has long been one of the smartest writers around, and with this novella we can easily see that her heart is as big as her brain. We know this story isn't true, but it is truth." [Charlaine Harris, New York Times best-selling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series (TV's True Blood)]

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Unusual absorbing story

This is teen fiction, and although I quite like teen fiction and Seanan McGuire (I also like her Mira Grant writing) I had this in my library for ages before reading it - I kept thinking, it just didn't sound interesting enough, it sounded a bit TOO 'teen', but then I was stuck with nothing to listen to, and thought "well it's quite short, so it will do for a train journey" ...

It was great! I loved the characters (Nancy, Kane, Jack, Charlie, Yumi); I absolutely loved the whole idea of it, 'human' teenagers who had found their place in alternate story worlds, and who were now lost because their doors were closed coming together in a strange school. And their worlds .... wow, what an amazing imagination McGuire has. I love her ideas; her worlds; her lovely vision. This was short, and very sweet, and a little sad, and just lovely. It is also a murder mystery as well as a strange fantasy novel for teens. Very satisfying.

The narrator's voice was great for the book, and she paced it very well. The different characters came across well. Id listen to her reading me a story again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Stunning, Magical, Creepy

A twisted, magical tale of children fron other worlds. Very enjoyable, even the gruesome parts!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful and heart-breaking

Story:

I loved this so much, I just couldn’t put it down until it was done. It’s magical, charming and perfectly weird, but also very dark and has a surprising amount of grisly bits. It’s about loss and difference and identity and also a little bit about hope, about finding a new family, a new home and new purpose when yours rejects you. And it can also be read as a metaphor for growing up and dealing with parents or a world that tries to make you ‘fit’ in ways that aren’t you.

It’s also very clever in its use of certain fantasy tropes, with a lot to say about portal fantasies and the characters you tend to find in them. I’ve read stories before that feel like they are in conversation with the fantasy genre, but this one is particularly successful at also being an utterly compelling story in its own right, not to mention including a great, diverse set of characters that I had a genuine emotional connection with. Just brilliant.

Narrator:

Amazing! The narrator handles this story and the characters in it so well, it's a delight to listen to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Different and lovely

This was fresh and absolutely stunning, I only wished it was much much longer, need to find out if this has a sequel.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Every Word A-mazing

Quick read, strong characers, interesting concept which was pulled off effectively.

The narrator was excellent, making every characters voice distinct without sounding gimmicky. Wasn't monotone and easy to listen to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I really really loved this book

The narrator was fine and easy to understand, but what stood out was the beautiful story and the effective writing style. I love this author and this book was so good - I listened to it all in one go. Plus the asexual protagonist and transboy main character helped a lot; good representation is always appreciated, and this was really good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • L
  • 08-04-16

Pleasantly surprised.

I bought this on a real whim as I like Seanan McGuire, but I really had no idea what to expect. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. The story is unusual and quirky which I loved, and the characters - apart from Nancy who was really irritating - were well written and funny. It wasn't hard to work out what was going on and who was responsible, but that was fine as it was still enjoyable. Really glad I took a chance on this.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Where has this story been all my life?

No seriously. I never knew I needed this gorgeous story, but I did. I was hooked from the word go. It's rich, bittersweet, just the right amount of whimsy, and gore. You need this story.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not expected story

I actually liked this book! Though didn't expect it would be that "dark"...the narrator was Brillient! For me it was an easy listen - though would log liked it to of been a longer story!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Diverse

Every Heart a Doorway is a novella that follows Nancy, a teenager who stepped through a door to another world. There are hundreds of children who have done the same as Nancy, stepping through to other worlds. Once they come back, they're not the same. And for those returned children, there is Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children.

I loved this book! I loved the characters, and the diversity within those characters. Nancy was asexual and Kade was transsexual and I think its brilliant that both of these sexualities are being explored through novels. I liked the murder mystery element, but I wish that the book was a bit longer so that we could have become more attached to the children before some of them died.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • tm
  • 12-07-16

Utterly Moving

You always hope with books, that as you open them they will spread wider than the breadth of their pages and swallow you whole, allowing you to live an abbreviated other life without reservation. This is such a book. The reader seemed strange to me at first but then perfect as she unfolded the story around me like a grown up sized blanket fort. The plot was so novel. So believable a consequence to every childhood fantasy of travel to other worlds. I can give it only the best accolade I am able, that as I listened to it my own world fell away. Artfully written and read.

28 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Elisabeth Carey
  • 04-05-16

Truly a fairy tale for our time

Nancy is the newest arrival at Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children--in reality, children like Nancy, who have experienced unreality in the form of fantasy-like alternate worlds. They stumbled through doorways that shouldn't have been there, and found themselves in worlds where they felt more at home than they ever had in their "real" homes.

Nancy spent time in the Halls of the Dead, learning stillness, silence, and patience. Nancy's roommate, Sumi, spent time in a "high nonsense" world and is in love with a Candy Corn farmer who is now, she assumes, lost to her. Kade sojourned in Faerie, and was thrown out when they realized he was only biologically female; Kade is a transgender boy. Jack (Jacqueline) and Jill (Jillian) are identical twins who spent time in a horror movie come to life, where Jill fell in love with a vampire and Jack trained to be a Mad Scientist. They all hope to get home again, and they all know their chances are really, really low. But at least they're among people who understand, people they can trust.

Until students start dying. Sumi is killed and her very talented hands are stolen. A girl whose gift is her exceptional eyes is killed and her eyes taken out--very carefully.

Nancy is the new girl, and her roommate was the first killed. Jack is a Mad Scientist. Christopher carries a bone flute with him, and talks about bones dancing. Tension and suspicion rise rapidly, and Miss West and all her students are afraid that authorities will find out and close down the school. They have to find the killer themselves, before they can't hide what's happening anymore.

This is a beautifully well-done story, with very subtle and persuasive character development. It's scary the extent to which I recognize these kids. I swear, I grew up with some of them. They are very much real teenagers, of the kind who don't fit in. Their not fitting in is less the result of their time in imaginary lands, than the cause of it.

It's just a wonderfully compelling story. Recommended.

I bought this book.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michelle Robbins
  • 04-12-16

It will stick with you

I have read/listened to more of Seanan McGuire, since I originally found this story and I now know that the worldbuilding, the transfixing general concept, is a bit of a hallmark of the author.

Because to be perfectly honest it wasn't the "story" that kept me listening transfixed, it was the characters - and the individual world each held within them. And just that concept itself, that heartbreaking concept, of children pulled into magical worlds - worlds where they finally finally fit - and then years later being tossed back out and floundering for their footing again. Wanting desperately to get back. And not being able to.

Get this. Seriously, it might be short but it will stick with you.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Leslie Larkins
  • 17-04-16

Great new world from Seanan McGuire

I am always thrilled to get Seanan building a new world, but the narration definitely did not help the story and probably harmed it for me. The character voices were, for the most part, not distinctive and the overall reading was very flat. I think I need to read this one to fully enjoy it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Rabbittine
  • 20-06-17

Just not for me

Any additional comments?

It just is not my cup of tea. I LOVE fantasy books. But I just could not get into this one. I love the Newsflesh Trilogy. I was excited to see this one pop up with excellent reviews. Maybe I was too hyped and thus disappointed. The writing style is lacking something. While the story is very creative and inventive. It certainly is something new... I just cannot get behind the characters. The reader also does not help grab me into it. She seems to read with a sigh. While that may add to the main character's personality and attitude towards the situation...it leaves me further disengaged from the story.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Caitlin K.
  • 09-09-17

Great story, but off-putting narration

What made the experience of listening to Every Heart a Doorway the most enjoyable?

Relateable characterization

What did you like best about this story?

Very vivid imagination in describing the children's other worlds

Would you be willing to try another one of Cynthia Hopkins’s performances?

I would because I don't think the problem with the narration were her fault, but rather the production. It sounded like the story was being read by a Speak'n'Spell.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jennifer Hawkins
  • 12-09-16

Delightfully delicious and dark

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend these books to people who really like authors like Francesca Lia Block and Allyse Near.

What did you like best about this story?

The uniqueness of the storyline

Which character – as performed by Cynthia Hopkins – was your favorite?

Eleanor. I could really see her in my mind when she came onto the scene.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I probably could but don't have the time for anything like that (unfortunately!)

Any additional comments?

Sometimes in the middle to end of the book, it seems like Cynthia would mix up the voices. But there were so many characters.... so... Anyway, I still enjoyed it greatly :)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jan
  • 10-04-16

The Memories of Worlds Gone By


The children entered their fantasy worlds in different ways. Some left earth through an old trunk with a hidden staircase. Others walked through mirrors or special doors. Nancy slipped into an underworld by crawling through a space between two roots of a tree.

But all of them were sent back to the earth before they became adults, and a home for wayward children is where they meet and share of their fantasy world memories, always with the hopes of one day going back.

This novel has a very original storyline, but was a little too short to execute the story to it's fullest potential.

I love the voice of Cynthia Hopkins. With the slowness of a near- southern drawl, she pulls the reader in with her character consistent narration and timeless vocal quality.

I am hoping this is the first in a series.

Very well done.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • S. Yates
  • 26-03-18

A grim fairy tale

4.5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed this unique, little book. The story manages to combine the fantastical and ordinary, and is at once peculiar and familiar, ghoulish and whimsical, macabre and heartfelt. Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children is a place that takes in the youth who have wandered into and then been ejected from other worlds (worlds that fall on a spectrum, or really in directions in four general cardinal directions -- nonsense, virtue, logic, and wicked). No two worlds identical, with wonders and horrors and rules of their own. The students each found secret doorways to these worlds, and such doorways are fickle at best, sometimes appearing only once never to be seen again. We are introduced to these concepts and the school by Nancy. In her late teens, she is the newest student and we see the school through her eyes.

The students, while underpinned by the fantastic, are typical in other ways. There are cliques, rivalries, friendships, and bullying. Though almost every student at the school longs to return to their own worlds, worlds that in many cases are the only ones that feel like home, McGuire uses the otherworldly to explore issues of mental health, belonging, and that cusp between childhood and adulthood. These issues can be made more immediate by virtue of the worlds the students came from. In some, violence was all in the normal course, in others death was embraced, and in every case the students came back fundamentally changed.

The story itself has its gruesome bits -- a string of murders occur and the killer removes parts of each victim for mysterious reasons. The adults at the school have no special powers to protect the students, and there is the mix of fear and accusation as everyone fears where the killer will next strike. Bonds are tested, and the ugliness of human nature highlighted. But even when it is very dark, there is still that bit of whimsy and goodness to keep it from being oppressive. McGuire (who writes under the name Mira Grant when doing SF/horror), strikes a lovely balance of the horrific and the lovely. And unlike her work as Grant, Every Heart a Doorway is lean and fast-paced, with none of the bloat that some of her other books have. I thoroughly enjoyed this strange little tale, and look forward to continuing the series, and the narrator was excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Doby-Elf
  • 11-07-17

Decent Novella

Any additional comments?

I loved the idea of this unique world, characters, and concept. The concept being, a boarding school/aka/ asylum, for children from different portals. The main character, Nancy, comes from a Hall of The Dead World, she's supposed to be cold and silent. While other characters come from Dark Worlds of vampires and mad scientists. It was an interesting premise but the characters felt flat to me.

The book began interesting enough, but at the halfway point it suddenly turns into a murder mystery. It was like all the potential for further character and world development was switched to a crime plot. The crime wasn't interesting or even suspenseful, and it was easy to figure out "who dunn it". There were glimpses of all the fascinating worlds the kids had been to, but a lot of plot holes that were glossed over.
The dialog between the characters was stilted and awkward at times, and I didn't understand what that was all about. It was like the author had checklist next to her computer that she wanted to fulfill: asexuality, trans, gender fluidity, etc. All would have been important and more interesting but not when they're written from a teaching viewpoint as opposed to an organic storyline.
I think if the author had kept her focus on the characters and the world she was creating and had not delved off into that murder mystery, I would have enjoyed this book more. I understood from the beginning it was a Novella, so that makes it even more of a letdown.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful