When I first heared about the book 'Every Heart a Doorway' by Seanan McGuire, I was not exactly impressed by the books concept. Teenager living in a school in a fantasy world did not sound original and groundbreaking to me. Actually the book market is swamped by these stories, especially in recent years they multiplied in thousands fold. So it is not hard to tell that I did not had high expectations for this book when I started reading.
My initial impression stands therefore in a stark contrast to what I was expecting. I was suddenly thrown into a world of such complexity, novelty and magic. Which left me really surprised, as it was not at all like what I was expecting. Every Heart a Doorway takes the normal otherworld adventures like Alice in Wonderland and puts a turn to it. Instead of being about the actual adventure in itself, it is about the time after their time in their world ends and they return to the 'normal' world and their families. But nonetheless, it is "a story, not an epilogue" (p.17, l. 23-24).
The story starts with Nancy, the protagonist of the first volume, entering Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children. Where already all the other Characters are gathered. At first it is hard for here to get to know the people there and to fell at home there, as she, as almost everybody else there, still hangs on to her adventure and wants nothing more than to return to her world. But she does not get much time to get accustomed to her new environment, acquaintances and, maybe, friends. Because suddenly her roommate, Sumi, is found gruesome murdered. And the murderer is nowhere in sight. This bans the peace and trust from the home and prejudice, judgment and fear take up their place in the residents hearts. Now it is up to Nancy and her newfound classmates to solve the mystery and capture the murderer, before it is to late and somebody falls victim to him.
That in itself is a new kind of adventure, which the majority of the students never wanted to experience. The reader gets to read about how it just starts to spiral downwards from there on. Which in itself is already interesting to read, but thought the skilled use of methapores and similies, it gets even better. Though this book may not be for everyone, as it deals with rather dark themes. Such as the loss of innocence, corruption of the majority of the character and how the handle being thrown into an entirely seemingly hopeless situation. In my eyes it is a huge plus for the book, that it shows such a character development, which is hard to find in some books, especially such short ones.
In generally, I would recommend this book to 'young adults' or adults, who like mystery stories, to think deeper about the plot while reading and mainly read fantasy books. Even though none of this is a requirement and everybody who is slightly interested should this book a chance. Because it is worth reading.
But that's just my recommendation, everyone can decide for themselves, or as Every Heart a Doorway so well:"You are nobody's doorway but your own, and the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you" (p. 168, l. 8 - 10).