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Every Heart a Doorway

Written by: Seanan McGuire
Narrated by: Cynthia Hopkins
Length: 4 hrs and 44 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Publisher's 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

What the critics say

"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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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

It was ok

It wasn't as good as I thought it would be given it won both the nebula and Hugo awards.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • tm
  • Richmond, Virginia United States
  • 2016-07-12

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.

51 of 52 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
  • Elisabeth Carey
  • 2016-05-04

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.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Caitlin K.
  • 2017-09-09

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michelle Robbins
  • USA
  • 2016-12-04

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Leslie Larkins
  • 2016-04-17

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • S. Yates
  • 2018-03-26

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • D. M. Meyer
  • Berkeley Springs WV, USA
  • 2018-08-09

Not what I expected

As a fan of Narnia and Dorothy and Alice, I expected this book to be a little lighter. It was very dark, including murders. It was certainly different! As others have said, the narrator was a bit stiff without much inflection, but it is in keeping with the voice of the girl who tells the story. #DarkFantasy #Dark #tagsgiving #sweepstakes

2 of 2 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
  • Mica
  • 2016-10-30

Fantastic

I listened to this book in one day. I've been meaning to listen to/read it because I had seen a post about it on tumblr and how it has an asexual character and all and it was truly and beautiful, magical, heartfelt book. The performance made me feel like I was there and I was thoroughly invested in the characters the whole way through. Although I have slight mixed feelings about the end, it is a great read that I would suggest to anyone who is looking for a different kind of magical murder mystery-ish story.

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
  • 2016-09-12

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
  • Kindle Customer
  • 2016-04-10

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