Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: 
Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #1
Genre: 
YA Diverse Fantasy
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Pages: 173 (Hardback)
Publishers: Tor
Rating:
4 and a half star

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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 new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

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I really like the cover of this book. It is simple, but catches your eye and also betrays the story well. I really enjoy how all the covers in this series just have a landscape background with a single item in the middle standing out.

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This book is beautifully written and to some degree, the writing is fairly lyrical, similar to Laini Taylor’s but not quite as much. But also a lot darker! Overall, the book was a lot darker than I expected. I just thought it would be a casual YA Fantasy, but it actually turned out to be a Murder Mystery as well. So even though it was unexpected, it was done well and I enjoyed the reading.

I was worried that being such a short book there might be confusion or details left out, however, everything flowed together nicely and was concluded well. The only real mystery was the worlds that these children had been to and I do find it a shame that we only get to dive into two of them with the companion novels Down Among the Sticks and Bones & Beneath the Sugar Sky. Hopefully, it will be extended later on as I would love to dive a bit further into the other worlds!

I also enjoyed the multi-POV, however, I did wish that it was specified whose POV we were reading from at the time as it did swap around randomly and sometimes to completely random characters that we hadn’t heard from before. It wasn’t really an issue but it just would have been nice.

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So the plot itself was a little typical when it comes to murder mysteries, but they all kinda are I guess, someone gets murdered and the MC tries to discover the murder. I did enjoy it, but it was a little predictable, I didn’t guess from the start of the murders, but I did guess a little further in. I still enjoyed myself while reading and it was still pretty well down, even with the predictability. The plot wasn’t my favourite part of the book though and the reason I didn’t give the book 5 stars.

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My favourite thing is the diversity in this book! The MC is Asexual, which is rare to find and I’m pretty sure I haven’t read a book with an Asexual MC. I can’t speak for the rep but I have heard all the diversity is well done! As well as the Asexual rep we also have a Trans character, characters of varying races & characters with different gender identities. So A+ for the diversity!

Overall I didn’t feel huge connections or have a full understanding of any of the characters. But with the amazing world building and the mystery going on, and only in 170 pages, you can’t expect everything I guess! For that reason, I don’t have a tonne to say about them.

Nancy was the Main Character I guess but as it was multi POV all the focus wasn’t always on her. She also didn’t get thrown into the typical female MC in Fantasy trope that we usually see! The Badass or powerful girl who even if she doesn’t think she can, she ends up saving the world type MC.

Kade was enjoyable but also kinda felt like a typical male side character.

Sumi was overactive and loud but also kinda hilarious. Some of the crap she came out with was pretty damn funny, so that was enjoyable even if the other half of her time she was saying negative stuff.

Jack and Jill were very different characters for twins, but now after reading Down Among the Sticks and Bones that makes total sense. All the forensic stuff that Jack did was a little confusing at times as it was hard to see her as a character that has had life experience and not a child. Jill was a little more absent and mysterious in this book. She played a part but didn’t have as much page time as Jack did. Also, it was so hard at the start to think of ‘Jack’ as a female with a nickname ‘Jack’.  After a while, I got used to it, but it was a bit hard at the start.

Eleanor, the women who started Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward children gave me huge Alma Peregrine vibes! And also just the name of the school reminds me of the  Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series!

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children…
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children…

This makes me slightly iffy about the book itself. I know authors take inspiration from other books but that is just a little to close for comfort.

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Overall, the world building and writing was the best part of the book. The world building was amazingly down and the writing was gorgeous but dark! The Characters could have used some more development, but as I say in 170 pages you can’t have everything. The plot was my least favourite part of the book and the reason it didn’t get 5 stars!

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HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT?!

IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHARE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS THEN PLEASE WARN IT SO OTHERS DON’T GET SPOILED!

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The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
Author: 
Leigh Bardugo
Series Name: The Grishaverse
Genre: YA Fantasy Short Stories
Publication Date: Sept 26th, 2017
Pages: 281 (Hardback)
Publishers: Orion Children’s Books
Rating:
4 star

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Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

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Okay, so I am doing this differently! I’ll just do a little mini review on each of the stories individually. It won’t be split into ‘writing, plot and character simply as each story is so short that it’s hard to comment on a character you only knew for 30-90 pages. As for the writing, Leigh Bardugo’s writing is great and I had nothing to fault with any of the stories except the kind of similarity with them. As they all kind of had the same message of betrayal or someone not being as they seem. They did feel similar just different places and different people.

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This one gave me Beauty and the Beasts vibes kinda. However with a twist. I did enjoy that the MC/hero of this story was not the typical beautiful stereotyped hero that we see in most books. The ending was also unexpected but I liked what the ‘bad guy’ got for doing what he did. Karma!

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Again another story of people not being who they seem. I enjoyed this one and I didn’t really guess the ending to this at all. I think as this was only the second story, I hadn’t realised the pattern yet of all the stories being basically the same, so this one was still surprising to me. Still, an enjoyable story.

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This is another kind of retelling. This one based on Hansel and Gretel. However, again, it had a twist. And also again it had the theme of people not being who they seem! By this point, I was starting to see the pattern and through the whole book, I was thinking I bet it wasn’t actually the person/thing everyone suspects and it’s actually one of the MCs friend or family… And I was correct. Also that eating the gingerbread person scene was bloody weird.

**spoilers below!**

Okay, so I am talking about the scene where her father eats the gingerbread girl version of her. Did anyone else get kinda creeped out by that?!
“… He nuzzled the brown flesh of her shoulder, pressed his lips to her skin.”
“But her father’s hand slipped beneath the hem of her skirts …”
What the actual hell! I thought these stories were meant to be like fairytales for kids in the Grisha world. He thought the gingerbread girl was his daughter and he is putting his hand down her skirt? Excuse me? What type of kids fairytale is that?!!

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This one had a good lesson. Basically don’t just let others do the work for you and don’t just take the easy way. I did enjoy it and I liked that the ending was so unexpected and good Karma for all of them.

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This one was my least favourite and it was a tad odd too. It gave The Nutcracker vibes, but it also reminds me of The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid.

I would have put this at the end of this section, but I want the spoilers part to be obvious for those that want to avoid it. So read the section below first if you don’t care about the spoilers then come back here!
This was also the only book that I felt like didn’t deal with the same, ‘people aren’t as they seem’ thing. Which I did enjoy! Droessen was a very odd character and also a little creepy.

** slight spoilers below for both The Soldier Prince & The Diabolic**
A person (or in this case toy), made to be used for a specific purpose and not meant to be able to think for themselves basically wakes up and realises hey, I want things too. In The Diabolic, Nemesis is a person that was created with the sole purpose of protecting a certain person. Then she starts to develop human emotions and wants. In this one, the doll was created to come alive and make Clara’s needs and dreams come true and then the toy begins to wonder what it’s like outside of its cabinet.

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This is the longest story in the book. It was also a spin on the Little Mermaid kind of. This story doesn’t exactly deal with the ‘people aren’t as they seem’ theme, but it does deal with betrayal and using people just until you don’t need them anymore.

I did find this story a bit long and slow. But not horrible. I also guessed a fair bit in this story, there was still a few things that surprised me, but mostly predictable.



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