Saturday, June 03, 2017

A Hugo Review: Best Novella - Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire is about children who have experienced other worlds, and a school meant to help them.

One minor complaint about the story as presented in the packet. At the end of the story there was an excerpt from a related book, but there was no indication that it was an excerpt in the text itself (usually there's a bit that says "Here's a sneak preview of this upcoming novel" or something like that). I read it, and wondered why the novella ended with a couple of strange chapters like that. It wasn't until I finished and hit the table of contents (which was at the end) that I learned those chapters weren't part of the story. It definitely changed my reading experience - I didn't think the story ended where it actually ended, which made for a weird feeling of incompleteness. This is entirely the fault of the publisher, and has nothing to do with the story itself. But I found it really annoying once I realized what had happened.

The good: While there are lots of stories of children whisked away to fairylands, there aren't as many stories about what happens when they return, and still fewer about those children who have no desire to return. The concept of the school and why Eleanor is running it is great. I also found it heart-breaking to learn the reason Eleanor couldn't return to her own fairyland. Ouch. The various characters we meet are wonderful. Nancy is fascinating and Kade is simply wonderful. Jack and Jill have their moments. Even the mean girls have a certain pathos to them. Christopher was also a character who had a moment of shining glory with his flute. It seemed to me that some of the children, Nancy for sure, had been sent back to the real world to have one final adventure there. I do wonder if Christopher made it back to his home as well. The mystery was fairly neat and powerful. I enjoyed the way it was solved (and how obvious it was to the reader ahead of time).

The bad: I was a little disoriented by the changes in point-of-view. It seemed like it was Nancy's story, but the viewpoint switched a couple of times, and not always as smoothly as it could have.

Conclusion: A very good story despite a couple of minor flaws. I think it's moved into the second spot on my ballot.

Best Novella: I've read Penric and the Shaman, Every Heart a Doorway and The Ballad of Black Tom. I need to read The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, A Taste of Honey, and This Census-Taker.