Every Heart a Doorway: A Review

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I’ve been waiting for Seanan McGuire’s latest for a while. I loved her short story “Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage” and Every Heart A Doorway is almost an extension of that tale, focusing on the children who came home and wished they’d stayed. I bought this novella—which is what this is, really—via Audible and it was five hours I’m so glad to spend in a magical world, sort of like Hogwarts but with High Nonsense instead of magic. I wanted to visit Nancy’s world, the Land of the Dead, where Persephone ate pomegranate seeds and the darkness is spotted by stars.

Published by Tor.com, this is not a novel, rather it’s one of several tales which are transcending the boundaries, welcoming shorter fiction into accepted society. Before Tor, everything had to be a novel but this story is perfectly paced. I’m a huge fan, freely admitted, of Seanan’s other fiction, especially her Mira Grant persona (hell, Uni and I, well Lesley, died in one of her stories; that’s how much of a fan I am).

The audiobook, my preferred medium, was beautiful. Perfectly narrated and leaving me wanting more … even though the stort stands-alone quite perfectly. It’s a beautiful work, mixing special children with the grief that comes from growing up. I adore it; and all the broken hearts that come with it. So many children visit other worlds but being forced to grow up is another kind of torture.

Seriously, you owe it to yourself to read this, right now.

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The Liner Notes: “One Quiet Night”

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Last year my friend Shannon was staying with me while she looked for places in London. Being Canadian, the capital was calling her like a moth to a flame, I was like that once too, even if I didn’t go into the city much until my final year at uni and after. Anyway, for fun, we invited around two geek friends of mine, Mel and Kris, for a night of pizza and board games. I didn’t even know that was a thing until Shannon got me playing them. Now I’m a huge fan of Cards Against Humanity on principle because it is the perfect adult game, mainly because it works better the more you drink.

Yeah, it got pretty rude towards the end.

Anyway, we also played Pandemic which Shannon had previously introduced me and a somewhat sceptical Uni too. It’s a lot more fun when you have two more players and I’m totally for anything involving viruses and extinction level events (this is what I get from reading far too much Seanan McGuire). One of the cards, titled One Quiet Night, stuck with me (Hi, Pandemic folk, please don’t sue me!) and thus was my story born.

I wrote “One Quiet Night” in second person because I wanted to really get readers stuck in the story, setting it in an unnamed town near to where I live. It focuses on an unnamed single mother who’s daughter, Carly, has caught a new strain of flu which is, literally, killing humanity not that my protagonist has completely realised her daughter is dying. Then the phone goes out and she can’t figure out why. Oh and her elder son, Brandon, isn’t all himself either.

This story is so British it’s almost painful. That was half the point as I’m aware most readers won’t be; the British words like ‘mobile’, ‘GP’ and ‘101’ are going to confuse the heck out of people, thushopefully—heightening the tension. Added to that the isolation, which is straight out of every horror story ever, is particularly poignant. Especially when the protagonist realises she’s not the only one watching her child die to a disease humanity simply doesn’t have a cure too.

I remember when H1N1 and swine flu were things; there was never that much panic buying, at least not in my little town but everyone was almost painfully aware—exacerbated entirely by Twitter and Facebook—that something foul was in the air. That’s where the rest of this story came from, even though back then at least there was no real danger, not if people were smart (and people so seldom are).

Here’s the cover I designed for it (I think the image is gorgeous and totally fits the story which is contemporary but also sci fi):

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As a reminder, here’s the blurb:

It only takes one quiet night for humanity to die …

Everyone expects zombies and nuclear fire to herald the destruction of the Earth but the end, at least in this tale, comes much more quietly. Your daughter is sick, the entire world is dying, and there’s nothing you can do. 

Yes, you

Step into the shoes of a single mother whose daughter doesn’t just have a simple bug but is one of millions afflicting with a terrifying virus which is quietly decimating humanity.

And you’re not the only one watching her die.

Oh and you can go preorder the book (which is out 1st May) by going here: smarturl.it/Mosaics2

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