Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Review: The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner

Publication Date: January 1st 2015
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Length: 288 pages

Thanks to Netgalley and Hot Key Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

When the present offers no hope for the future, the answers may lie in the past AJ Flynn has just failed all but one of his GCSEs, and his future is looking far from rosy. So when he is offered a junior position at a London law firm he hopes his life is about to change - but he could never have imagined by how much. Tidying up the archive one day, AJ finds an old key, mysteriously labelled with his name and date of birth - and he becomes determined to find the door that fits the key. And so begins an amazing journey to a very real and tangible past - 1830, to be precise - where the streets of modern Clerkenwell are replaced with cobbles and carts, and the law can be twisted to suit a villain's means. Although life in 1830 is cheap, AJ and his friends quickly find that their own lives have much more value. They've gone from sad youth statistics to young men with purpose - and at the heart of everything lies a crime that only they can solve. But with enemies all around, can they unravel the mysteries of the past, before it unravels them?

This one was a quick and enjoyable read that thoroughly sucked me in, but never really developed into anything more than surface enjoyment. Sometimes that’s a good thing to have a story that you can just whip through in one sitting and be taken away for a little while. Sometimes that can be incredibly frustrating and leave you feeling cheated. Luckily I was in the former camp when I sat down to read this one.

It takes a little while to find its feet and really get going, but once it does it trundles along at a decent pace, not offering too much of a challenge in terms of plot or having to think whilst reading, but instead offers a simple story that relies heavily on the intrigue and magic infused within to carry the readers interest. A door that leads to the past, I loved how little time AJ spends having long desperate crisis about how this could be possible and just embraces it whole heartedly. AJ is an interesting protagonist, and I loved watching his story unfurl. The most interesting aspect for me was this idea of these three boys who hadn’t amounted to much in our world making something of themselves through the door. It was such a fascinating idea and I wish we could have seen a little more of its development. However the relationships between the three boys is left a little underplayed. We’re supposed to see that their the closest of friends, but it never really comes across. In fact the relationships throughout a little under developed which was a shame.

The writing is good, and I loved the historical details that are littered throughout. They really help to bring the past to life and to make AJs journeys through the door even more realistic and interesting. However the novel never really lifts from good into fantastic, which is a huge shame, and I felt like the writing let the concept down in several places.

All in all this was an interesting read that was thoroughly enjoyable to sit down with for a couple of hours. I was frustrated that it glossed over some of the parts that interested me the most, but on the whole it was a great stand alone read.

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