It’s official: Seanan McGuire is my new favorite. After really enjoying Sparrow Road and then realizing I’d have to wait a near-eternity (or maybe it just seems like it) to get the sequel from the library, I found on the shelves Every Heart A Doorway, first in another series (Wayward Children) by the same author.
The basic premise is intriguing: what happens to the people who find their way into fairy tale worlds (like Alice in Wonderland etc) but then end up back in their original world? Since most of them are young people (children to teens), apparently they come back very changed. In many cases, they want to go back to the place they wandered into, but even if not, they’re just different when they come back. Different enough that parents and/or guardians either no longer want to deal with them or have no idea how to help the child they believe has suddenly developed mental/emotional issues. The answer apparently is send them to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, and she will help them.
So now, enter new resident to the Home, Nancy, who has been to a World of the Dead and really wants to go back, and add her fellow residents who ended up in a Nonsense world (Sumi), with mad scientists and vampires (Jack and Jill), Fairyland (Kade), a spider kingdom(Loriel), etc. They attend school classes of some sort, and have group therapy and individual sessions where they talk about their adventures and the possibilities for ever or never getting back. Then the murders start.
I don’t usually go for horror, but it’s balanced so well here between the suspense and the gory murders and investigation. The characters are so interesting and not always what you’d expect. Kade for example has a really interesting twist to his backstory, Nancy is openly asexual, and Jack and Jill are identical twins (girls) who were mis-labeled from young childhood as to who was the ‘smart’ and who was the ‘pretty’ one, something brought out big time by how each one of them ended up in the Moors, where they wandered in and out of.
The eventual solving of the murders is on the one hand a little stupid, in the motive, but also open-ended enough to really want to know more about what happens to everyone who is still alive. There are several sequels already and low and behold my local library does have a few of those on the shelf. I will be retrieving them tomorrow. The only strange thing is that based on certain elements of the storytelling and the novella format, I would have expected these to be in the YA section, but they are in fact in general adult fiction.