Hugo and Nebula award–winner McGuire pulls off another hit with her sixth Wayward Children fantasy (after Come Tumbling Down). Horse-obsessed Regan Lewis spends her childhood struggling to “thread the needle of normalcy” after her best friend shames her for being intersex. At age 11, she discovers an unusual doorway in the woods that warns her to “be sure” before entering. On the other side, she finds the Hooflands, a world of magical equines, where she is met by a centaur and adopted into a herd. She learns that her arrival heralds enormous change in this world, as has the arrival of every human who’s stumbled upon the Hooflands before her. Though at first Regan is eager to return home to her parents, years pass swiftly in the Hooflands, and Regan loses her desire to leave as she finds new confidence and widens her worldview. When the time comes for her to step away from the herd to fulfill her destiny, she is joined by others who surprise her with their humanity, and she learns the truth of the Hooflands’ history. McGuire conjures a distinctive, remarkable world to nurture Regan’s moving coming-of-age. Series devotees will not want to miss this standalone addition, and anyone who appreciates off-the-beaten-path adventures will be swept away. Agent: Diana Fox, Fox Literary. (Jan.)
Anyone who appreciates off-the-beaten-path adventures will be swept away.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A gorgeous standalone. The prose is emotional and moving and will speak to the hearts and minds of readers.” Kirkus
“A great read for middle and high schoolers who enjoy themes of friendship and family, and a magical world of unicorns and centaurs.” School Library Journal
Praise for Every Heart a Doorway
“A mini-masterpiece of portal fantasy that deserves to be shelved with Lewis Carroll's and C. S. Lewis' classics.” NPR
“Seanan McGuire has long been one of the smartest writers around, and with this novella we can easily see that her heart is as big as her brain.” Charlaine Harris
“This is a gorgeous story: sometimes mean, sometimes angry, and always exciting.” Cory Doctorow for BoingBoing
“So mindblowingly good, it hurts.” io9
Seven-year-old Regan Lewis loves her parents, her best friends, and especially horses. Nearly four years later, Regan really does not feel the same as the other girls at school. This is because Regan is intersex. When she shares that secret with her best friend, she finds out the cruelty that comes from societal expectations. Regan runs away to the woods, where she discovers a door to the Hooflands, where centaurs, kelpies, and unicorns reside. Humans are to be turned over to the queen, and the human will become the hero the Hooflands need, but her new centaur family decide to stretch that time as long as possible. Except prophecies exist for a reason, and even if Regan does not believe in destiny, it may still call upon her. McGuire's inclusive characters are always presented fully formed and without cliché, and her critical takes on femininity in society are balanced with the beauty of the love of biological and found family. VERDICT The sixth "Wayward Children" title (after Come Tumbling Down) is a gorgeous standalone. The prose is emotional and moving and will speak to the hearts and minds of readers.—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton
Gr 6 Up—McGuire's latest "Wayward Children" book is a standalone novel set in the series' universe. The story follows Regan, an 11-year-old girl dealing with a toxic friendship and unwelcome news from her parents that she is biologically intersex. When she tries to confide in her best friend that, despite the news, she still feels that she is a girl, she is immediately humiliated and ostracized. On her way home from school, she comes across a door in the middle of nowhere. Thinking it is an art display of some sort, Regan walks through the door and into a magical world of centaurs, unicorns, kelpies, and more. She is quickly adopted by a herd of centaurs and told humans are brought into the Hooflands to fulfill their destiny. Regan is happy to stay with the centaurs until years have passed and she can no longer avoid her destiny to save the world and then disappear forever. Readers will enjoy growing up with Regan and learning about family and friendships. With the support of her adopted centaur family, Regan finds that she has the power to decide her own fate. VERDICT This novel is a great read for middle and high schoolers who enjoy themes of friendship and family, and a magical world of unicorns and centaurs.—Melanie Leivers, Burnsville, MN
The sixth novella in the Wayward Children series introduces yet another child who tumbles through a portal to a magic land and is forever changed.
Three years ago, when she was 7, Regan Lewis rejected her sweet and quirky friend Heather in favor of mean queen bee Laurel. But the gravity of her mistake doesn’t really strike home until Laurel viciously rejects Regan when Regan, now 10, reveals something her parents have just told her: Regan is intersex, which explains why she isn’t maturing like the other girls. A distraught Regan flees into what’s left of the local woods and inadvertently passes through a magical door to the Hooflands, populated by fauns, minotaurs, kelpies, and all manner of other hoofed beings. A kindly band of centaurs takes Regan in, and she gladly becomes part of their simple life herding unicorns, discovering true friendship with the centaur girl Chicory and satisfaction in her apprenticeship to their healer. But her contentment cannot last, because all denizens of the Hooflands know that human visitors to their realm will ultimately become heroes and save them from dire threat, whatever that happens to be. Can Regan defy her destiny, or must she inevitably meet the mysterious Queen Kagami and defeat a hitherto undefined evil? McGuire revisits her well-known themes: the cruelty demonstrated by some children as well as the strong and beautiful friendships that more open-hearted children can build, the pain of trying to conform in a society that punishes outliers, and the rewards of following one’s own path and finding that place where one fits and flourishes. Because she is the only human among them, Regan is free to express her humanity in any way she chooses...up to a point, anyway—the point at which the story turns. This is probably the most literal iteration of McGuire’s ongoing argument that biology is not destiny. The author can’t seem to stay away from transmitting these messages over and over, both in this series and in her other works, but she does transmit them beautifully, and some people may need to read them over and over, either for reassurance or to let the ideas sink in.
Possibly preachy, but usefully so, and eloquently expressed.