Take note authors, this is how you partially introduce a world to your audience. This is how you keep my interest piqued instead of making me feel as though you don't have a good grasp on the world you've created.
It's like the difference between watching a magician who's captivating and precise vs. one who repeatedly cannot guess your card & whose doves are flying off with his hat.
Nancy is the newest student at Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children, a place where kids from all over have, at one point or another, been displaced into one of many fantasy worlds by way of a door. They now reside back in the real world, full of pain and resentment at being ejected from the fantasies where they hoped to live out the rest of their lives.
So much about this book was refreshing.
I absolutely loved the writing style. It was subtle, metaphors that didn't necessarily involve unusual elements, but were crafted in a way so that they read like silk.
'"Oh," whispered Nancy, and the sound was like a stone dropped into a still pool: small, but creating ripples that touched everything in their path.'
This style, coupled with a third person POV threw a wonderful twist in the "chosen one" trope. Here? Everyone's a chosen one. Everyone in this school could have their own book.
So while Nancy is the initial means through which the reader is introduced to the story, she in no way suffers from special girl syndrome. There may be a small focus on her, but the story is told in a way that creates the same amount of space between the reader and all of the characters involved.
Which brings me to my next point. This book is rich with diversity and I can't explain how much I loved that. Representation is so important, and I thought Seanan McGuire handled it very well. We've got different ages, different sexualities, different races, different orientations, it was wonderful.
I have never read a plot similar to this one, which is honestly a difficult thing to find. It was so delightfully strange. Elements of horror/thriller mixed with fantasy, definitely a unique and difficult combination to pull off.
The only reason I knocked half a star off of my rating was because I guessed the twist & I think it could've stood to be a bit longer, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this weird little tale. A great one to read in the month of October!