jueves, 21 de abril de 2016

Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire

(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)

Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Owner of a Lonely Heart, by Yes (Spotify, YouTube). 

The good people at Tor.com are working really hard to make it very difficult for me to choose the best novella of the year. After The Devil You Know, Forest of Memory and A Song for No Man's Land now they have published another excellent book: Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire.

The novella takes place in Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, an institution for young girls (and some boys, but mainly girls) who once entered a fantasy world through a magical portal and, after returning to the real world feel lost and, what is worse, are not accepted by their families. A very interesting idea, somehow related to novels such as The Magicians, by Lev Grossman, and recent stories such as "Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass", by Jeremiah Tolbert, but with a distinct personality and some really original twists.

To me, the strongest point of Every Heart a Doorway is that the idea of coming back from a magical realm can be interpreted literally and the novella works just perfectly in that way. But it can also be seen as a metaphor for many, many different things: mental illness, drug addiction, unrequited love, coming out the closet, undesired pregnancy, school bullying... or, simply, coming of age and the confusion and uneasiness that usually goes with it.

In fact, each of the characters in Every Heart a Doorway shows a different aspect of that metaphor and almost all of them are fully fleshed and charismatic, another of the strong elements of this wonderful novella. Also, the world-building, with the different categories of magical worlds, is extremely appealing, as well as the mystery that is central to the plot in the second half of the book.

The tone and the prose are also fantastic, with a style very different from what I had read previously by McGuire/Grant and an almost perfect balance of dark scenes and horror elements and other that are more melancholic or optimistic. As a minor problem, I'd mention that the transition from a first part in which we get to know the characters and the setting to the second part, which is mainly a whodunit, is a bit abrupt, but it is easily forgivable in light of the many virtues of Every Heart a Doorway.

All in all, an excellent, evocative and intelligent story that I just loved from the very first page. I don't know if this is the best novella of the year (in fact, with so many strong contenders I think I should just stop trying to decide and enjoy the ride) but I am sure it is one you should not miss.

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