Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire. Urban Fantasy. Hardback, 169 pages. Giveawaybox
I may have read too much of McGuire's works. Every character in this story was someone I had met before. It was as though the Velveteen universe characters got crossed with Valente's Fairyland
and were spit out through a shattered mirror. The story was achingly familiar. The villain was predictable. The ending... less so, but still not any kind of a surprise.
What was lovely was the story itself: a full and sympathetic understanding of the fact that children who lose their Door very seldom - if ever - find it again. It's a metaphor for youth in many ways.
One of McGuire's less examined theories in this story is that fewer boys than girls find Doors into other worlds both because boys are expected
to get in trouble, and so are watched more carefully, and also because boys are less likely to be still and quiet, so could only attract doors from the louder, energetic worlds. So by the assumed nature of boys - energetic and trouble-seeking - they are both excluded from other worlds and prevented from finding the few that would welcome them. Boys don't get the chance of discovery.
That doesn't mean that no boys find Doors, just fewer. There are a scattering of boy characters in this book, including one who was born in a girl's body. The boys have stories about their found worlds and their expulsions from those worlds that are just as weighty as the stories the girls tell.
With regards to identity and gender, McGuire puts her pen where her convictions are. The heroine is asexual. There is a boy who once had a girl's body. There is a set of identical twins who desperately want to choose their own identities. There is a boy in love with a Skeleton Girl. Etc.
There are some familiar, trope-based characterizations as well. The most beautiful girl in the school has the heart of a gushing sewer. The mad scientist's apprentice is always accused whenever something goes wrong. One of the girls from a Nonsense world dresses in whatever rainbow assortment is around and prefers to enter/exit rooms via the windows and handy trees. (She also sorts books by color.)
I got this book because it was McGuire (not Grant) and so I knew I would enjoy it. And while it's a hardback, that just means it will hold up longer when it goes to the library.
I recommend this book to my sister, who memorized large chunks of Alice in Wonderland and can still recite works from Lamps Hurled at the Stunning Algebra of Ants
.Books for 2016