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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

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)]

Featured Article: 16 of the Best Fantasy Authors Ever


There is no feeling quite like falling in love with a great fantasy listen, doing a little digging, and joyfully discovering that the author has an extensive catalog of audiobooks for you to dive right into. Fantasy as a genre is particularly blessed with a wealth of diverse authors writing all different kinds of stories. From classic epics to standalone novels that were published in the last few years, it's the perfect genre for losing yourself in a full day’s worth of listening. These brilliant fantasy authors will transport you to another world—whether a parallel universe or a post-apocalyptic version of Earth.

What listeners say about Every Heart a Doorway

Average Customer Ratings
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  • tm
  • 07-12-16

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.

105 people found this helpful

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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.

28 people found this helpful

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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.

19 people found this helpful

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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.

30 people found this helpful

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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.

12 people found this helpful

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Whiny teens and murder, not that it matters

Ryan Murphy is a horrible writer/producer. He takes no interest in his characters or his stories. Every scene is a pastiche of movie scenes he liked, so none of the scenes matter. Any plot development in one episode is tossed in the next. Characters don’t develop, they change costumes. It’s clear Murphy doesn’t care about his world, his characters, his stories.

Seanan McGuire is no Ryan Murphy, fortunately, although she seems to travel in the same circle. She sets up a genius premise — what happens to those misfit kids who stumble home from Narnia or Wonderland or Hogwarts and back into the mundane reality they so desperately wanted to escape? But the answer is, McGuire doesn’t care.

She sets up an interesting central character, mostly outlined by the central premise, with one added trait: she’s asexual. But it doesn’t matter. The extent that being asexual impacts her life begins and ends with her coming out to her peers with a flat recital of what it means to be asexual, as though she’s reading a Wikipedia page. We do not experience life as an asexual through the eyes of the protagonist. Just this textbook definition, and disinterested reaction from her peers. Later, when a romantic possibility arises, you think you’ll finally get some heartfelt exploration into her experience, but then McGuire retreats into definitions, definitions, definitions. The protagonist doesn’t have to wrestle with making romantic connections while being asexual, and the object of her affection doesn’t seem impacted either way. It’s irrelevant. Her asexuality doesn’t matter. None of it matters.

Standard YA fantasy tropes are deployed to describe a halfway home for these collected misfits. Then they just whine, whine, whine about how mundane this world is, and how whimsical their otherworld was. The details of these otherworlds seem barely fleshed-out, and largely unimportant for the story. We’re told these otherworlds are where these kids are truly meant to be, where they fit in and flourish, but then later we learn these otherworlds were actually nightmarish for most of these kids, that they didn’t fit in, and the experience was harrowing. Moments later — no matter, the kid will whine about being back in mundane reality. If we’re meant to see these kids’ lives balanced on a knife’s edge of contradiction — both glad to be home, and missing their captors, there’s certainly little in the book you could point at as evidence. Mostly, it just doesn’t matter.

Finally, tragedy strikes. It takes out one of the most obnoxiously unlikeable characters ever written. I’ve never been so happy to see a character die that I was supposed to be sympathetic towards. The story shifts from fantasy to mystery genre. Except, no sleuthing is done. The kids sit around and whine, cast blame on the central goth children, and the adults are equaly whiny and useless non-entities.

Then McGuire smashes her world further. The central premise of the story is that the whimsical magic of the otherworlds had to be left behind, wistfully inaccessible. But suddenly, one of the kids remembers he can do magic still, and that magic could solve the central mystery. The gang urges him to use the magic, which works, but rather than chase this new clue, they destroy it. It doesn’t matter. None of it matters.

At this point, the mystery genre has given way to a serial-killer genre, with all of its tropes. Except, I couldn’t care about the killer’s motives. I didn’t care about any of the victims, and none were as obnoxious as the first, so I didn’t even get unintentional schadenfreude. The connections between the kids seem pretty superficial, so the impact of having one of their own die seemed non-existant. Mostly, they pause at whining about the loss of their beloved otherworld, to whine about how they could be next, before promptly returning to whining about their lost otherworld.

The conclusion comes abruptly, with no suspense or foreshadowing. Instead, The Real Killer just walks into the scene and starts monologuing a manifesto, as one does in a serial-killer story. But usually, there’s a chase after clues to identify TRK, and maybe a chase to catch TRK. But no. It doesn’t matter. And as typical for the serial-killer genre, the manifesto distracts TRK so the heroes can prevail. Oh, and one of the inner circle happened to know all along, but doesn’t offer any explanation why the secret was kept. “Oh, btw, yeah, that’s TRK all right.” Then some more monologing about The Real Reason TRK killed.

But, who cares, none of it mattered: not to the reader, not to the author, not to the characters.

Then there’s the narrator. While having a narrator that sounds the same age as the protagonist seems like a natural fit, since the story is not told from a first-person perspective, it adds very little. I didn’t like her choices for voicing the characters, and her youthful timbre took away some much-needed gravitas. It was a bad fit.

8 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this helpful

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Unengaging

The reader's attempt at southern accents was horrible...painful. And the "plot" went nowhere. I kept hoping that it would get to a point where I could say, "I get it", but it never happened. A waste of 3 hours of my time. I couldn't make it to the end.

5 people found this helpful

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Dark & a bit flat

I've enjoyed this author's other work, so I tried this one. I have enjoyed the complexity of her characters and plots but this one fell flat. It is a good idea, but most of the characters lack dimension, and the better developed ones are ... I think the word I want is stylized. The performance is ok, but overall, I'm disappointed in this book.

4 people found this helpful

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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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Dix
  • 06-11-16

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • anon8404
  • 08-18-17

Stunning, Magical, Creepy

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

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 12-29-16

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • V. Hooper
  • 08-14-17

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 person found this helpful

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  • maria
  • 06-09-17

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 person found this helpful

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  • Katie Stewart
  • 04-07-17

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 person found this helpful

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  • L
  • 04-08-16

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 people found this helpful

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  • Murray
  • 09-24-21

The concept was interesting but...

I read this book for two reasons:

1. The concept was really interesting. People coming from different magical wolrds.
2. It has both an asexual person and a trans person.

It deliverd on both of this, but the story was only ok. A bit creepy which I did not expect nor like. I did finish it tho. If I could change anything I would have liked it to be a bit more lighthearted.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-22-21

creepy weirdness!

really enjoyed this, the story is one of the weirdest I've ever come accross! absolutely loved the narrotor for this, fun relatively short listen.

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  • clefairy
  • 04-24-20

worth every minute

been trying to get hold of this story for years in UK, finally found it on audible and it was definitely worth the wait

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  • Melissa Carter
  • 06-17-18

Fantastic scifi

The narrator does a fantastic job with this book. I highly recommend checking it out.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-25-17

Beautiful but fell flat.

The concept was fascinating and I was hooked from the first chapter. Unfortunately I found the plot in the second half rushed, as if the author had a word limit and needed to get all the mystery out in a few pages. The clumsy pacing destroyed all it had built up in the first section of the book: character development, relationships, intrigue. Overall I found the most of the book disappointing. I wish the author spent more time exploring the possibilities the books concept opened up.

Futher, without taking the time to tease out the topics of gender and sexuality, certain character traits felt forced. It was as if the author threw them in there because they wanted to make a statement, but couldn't be bothered to write anything meaningful.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 02-27-19

great listen

a very enjoyable story that's exactly the right length. beautifully narrated too, the characters sounded distinct and unique.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-27-19

Amazing fantasy story about outsiders

amazing fantasy exploration of people whose happy place are "weird" or horrible for most people.