Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Sometimes children disappear, and when they come back, their stories of fantastical lands are too much for their families to handle. Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children is a place for such "troubled" youth. One new resident is Nancy, who is surprised to find out this home is different, and occupied by many children, like herself, who have been cast out of their otherworldly dwellings. Learning to deal with the strangeness of reality is hard enough; interacting with peculiar children even more so. When tragedy strikes at the home, Nancy and her new friends must root out the darkness at the heart of their lives, otherwise they will never return to their families. VERDICT -McGuire's ("October Daye" series) lyrical prose makes this novella a rich experience. Readers will be unable to resist the children's longing for home, no matter how bizarre or fanciful that destination may be.-KC © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
A boarding school offering sanctuary for very special teens is threatened by a series of murders in McGuire's darkly hypnotic standalone fantasy. Eleanor West has spent her life helping kids who discover secret doors to beguiling worlds and long to return to them. When Nancy arrives at Eleanor's manor, unrest seems close behind. If only Nancy could return to the Halls of the Dead and the waiting arms of that dimension's lord, she could be happy, but first she'll have to help the others track down a killer who's taking something different from each victim. The students include twins called Jack and Jill; a boy who can speak to bones; and Sumi, Nancy's roommate, who comes from a world of nonsense and speaks in lilting, looping curlicues of words. McGuire (the October Daye series) puts her own inimitable spin on portal fantasy, adding horror elements to the mix, and her characters are strange and charming. Being different is all these kids have ever known, but as much as they pine for their other worlds, they ultimately find comfort in one another. This gothic charmer is a love letter to anyone who's ever felt out of place. Agent: Diana Fox, Fox Literary. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
This new story from a veteran fantasy author offers writing that's full of imagery and evocative emotions and helps build suspense from the very first sentence. Behind the titular doorway lie alternate worlds, some magical, some dangerous, and some both. The children, mostly girls, who go through the doors become irrevocably changed, many of them becoming mature beyond their actual years. When they return to the real world, their families and friends no longer understand them. And some, like Nancy, want desperately to return to their alternate world, where they felt welcomed and loved. Eleanor West was once a young traveler to those worlds, and now she runs a home for these wayward children, helping them adjust to reality. Just as Nancy begins to make a place for herself, a puzzling and gruesome series of murders threaten the students and the home's very existence. The characters are well drawn, and their feelings about their impossible situation are believable. The alienation they experience and their struggles to find a way back will appeal to teens. When the murderer is revealed, the motivation will be understood by characters and readers alike. VERDICT Though short (this tale is more novella than novel), this clever inside out fantasy will intrigue fantasy fans and those who loved Ransom Riggs's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.-Gretchen Crowley, Alexandria City Public Libraries, VA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* If fairy tales are true, then what happens once you leave Wonderland? Nancy is one of those children who found a magic door, but to prove that she's worthy of staying forever in the Underworld, she is sent back where her parents desperately enroll her in Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children. In this cross between a school and an asylum, Nancy mixes with others just like her: a prince with a mistaken identity, twins who've hung out with mad scientists and vampires, and many other girls who wandered through other worlds only to find themselves inevitably stranded. All of the students are trying to find the portal back to their fairyland despite reminders that most doors open only once. Nancy discovers the lengths that Wayward Children will go to rediscover their worlds when her roommate, Sumi, turns up mutilated and murdered. McGuire takes readers by the hand and leads them down the twisty pathways of childhood, opening mysterious trunks and tapping on magical doors, down the rabbit holes of realization that perhaps every legend was true, once, for some child. And for every child who discovered the magic of a world where he or she finally perfectly fit in, there's an adult who reluctantly returned to earth by stumbling through a door of realization or simply by turning the page. This amazing fantasy pierces the shimmering veil of childhood imagination by reminding adult readers that their own doorways still exist deep in the chambers of their all-too-human hearts.--Howerton, Erin Downey Copyright 2017 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
The first in a novella series best characterized as post-portal fantasy: What happens after the rabbit hole spits you back out?One day, Nancy found a door in her basement that led to a pomegranate grove. Following that path, she spent years in blissful quiet and perfect stillness in the Halls of the Dead, serving its Lord and Lady. But now she's back in our world, and her distressed parents don't know how to cope with a daughter who refuses to admit where she really went, only dresses in drab colors, and refuses to date boys. Fortunately, Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children exists for boys and girls like Nancy; it's a place where stories like hers are believed and young people learn how to cope with their feelings of loss, even as they all desperately search for a way back to that other place. Nancy is a bit overwhelmed by her fellow students, returnees from nonsensical lands constructed of sugar, rule-based fairylands, gothic moorlands inhabited by vampires and mad scientists, and sky-based societies where everyone runs on rainbows. Her sense of disorientation only increases when someone starts brutally murdering the students and staff at the school, and Nancy's experiences with the dead make her a suspect. McGuire (Chaos Choreography, 2016, etc.) provides answers, or at least valid-seeming speculations, for anyone who's ever wondered how Susan really felt after she was barred from Narnia and if Alice managed to become a proper Victorian young lady after her return from Wonderland. McGuire understands and has true compassion (never pity) for outcasts and outliers while also making it clear that being a misfit doesn't mean you'll necessarily get along with all the other misfits, who don't fit for different reasons. Her depiction of teen interactions is believably prickly.Thoughtfully and poignantly wonders if, or hopes that, you can go home again, depending on what you define as home. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.