The Door That Led To Where
By Sally Gardner
Published by Hot Key Books
Sally Gardner never does the same thing twice. She doesn’t have to: the YA author has one of the most creative imaginations around. Her books move effortlessly from the romantic adventure of The Scarlet Blade set in the French Revolution to the extraordinary Maggot Moon, the story of a plucky young hero who gets mixed up with a future-world government plot to put a man on the moon.
Whatever she tackles, Gardner’s stories claw their way deep into the reader’s mind and stay there. Her latest novel, THE DOOR THAT LED To WHERE, is no exception. The author is also very good at creating interesting protagonists.
AJ Flynn, the hero of her new book, is a troubled teen who lives with his vicious, bullying mother in a run-down block of flats in a low-class area of London. He has just left school with only one pass in his final year exams. The future looks decidedly bleak for him.
But one morning, AJ’s mother announces that she has found him a job as general dogsbody at a local law firm. As if this weren’t unexpected enough, there are surprises waiting for AJ when he walks through the front door of the Baldwin Groat offices.
Some of the people who work there appear to have known AJ’s dead father, which is odd; even odder is that the employees call AJ “Aiden Jobey”, a name he has never heard before.
One day, while tidying out a room full of dusty old files and legal papers, AJ finds an old key with his name and date of birth engraved on it. It isn’t long before he learns that this key unlocks a door in a nearby old house that leads back to London in the 1830s.
AJ’s life takes on a dramatic turn when he walks through the door that literally leads to the past. He finds himself in a mystery involving missing children, poisonings and all sorts of black villainy. But THE DOOR THAT LED TO WHERE is much more than a gripping time-travel thriller. Gardner’s descriptions of life in both 21st century and 1830s London are masterly, and the idea that a young man from today finds himself more fulfilled in the past than he is in the present is intriguing.
By moving back in time, AJ finds that he has been transformed from a failure into a man with a mission: to solve a dreadful crime. But there are enemies all around who will stop at nothing to put a stop to this interloper who is meddling in things that are none of his concern.
This fast-paced and thought-provoking thriller will intrigue all those who read it. Gardner is on top form here; though honestly, anything else from one of Britain’s finest writers would have been a disappointment.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com