Everyone knows the stories: Of children stepping through mirrors or falling down rabbit holes or vanishing through strange doorways...and emerging somewhere else entirely. These worlds are fantastic and frightening. Here where dreams and nightmares come true. And for a time, these children are happy. Because these strange new worlds are more home to them than the worlds from which they came.
But then the inevitable: The children get sent back. Sometimes they break an unforgivable rule... Sometimes they get too old to exist in that world any longer... Sometimes there IS no reason. But one thing is certain. Once those childen return, they can never be the same. And they can never comfortably exist in our world again.
This is where Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Childen comes in. Here, returned childen are given the time and space and resources to recover from the shock of being returned (or, if they can't recover, they are , at least, given a place to stay while they morn the loss of their true home). They are educated about their fantasy world and others. They meet other children who have also journeyed and been returned. They are given a home, or at least a way station, away from home.
Every Heart A Doorway, by Seanan McGuire, is the story of one such returned child:
Nancy spent months--maybe years--in another world. It's hard to know how long, exactly. Time flows differently through the Halls of the Dead. All she knows is she was happy there. She was finally allowed to be herself. But now she's back to the "real world" and her parents, not knowing what to do about her, have sent her to Eleanor West.
Here, Nancy meets Sumi, Kade, Jack, Jill, and other children who have had similar experiences. She finally is feeling like she will be OK....at least until her doorway re-opens and she is allowed to go home again (her real home).
But then something terrible begins to happen: The residents of Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children begin dying in terrible ways. And no one seems to know how to stop the killer from striking again. Except maybe Nancy. But is she willing to help?
Although short (less than 200 pages), Every Heart A Doorway is amazingly creative. Fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will especially love this one!