Review: The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner

Monday, 2 February 2015

23049597The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner
Released: 1st January 2015
Published by: Hot Key Books
Genre: YA Mystery/Time Travel
Source: Publisher
Pages: 280
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
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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?

A fast-paced mystery novel by one of the country's finest writers, THE DOOR THAT LED TO WHERE will delight, surprise and mesmerise all those who read it.
Thank you to The Five Mile Press Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

It's been a few years since I've read something by Sally Gardner, and this book certainly doesn't disappoint. In a story where the past and the present converge with a mystery and some time travel to match, Gardner's novel is one that has so many elements which work well together. Although there was more of a contemporary edge than expected, I was pleasantly surprised at how the historical elements shone through and wove together. 

The past is all there, he thought, at the touch of a search button whereas the future takes some explaining.

AJ definitely didn't have the best lifestyle before discovering his key to the past. Faced with a household where he was treated as nothing, a neighbourhood far from pleasant and a future that was bleak at best, it was refreshing to find that he had a second chance - not because of the life that was to come, but the life he could experience back in 1830's London. It's refreshing to find a novel with time travel themes executed well, and the explanation given for AJ's situation was quite believable. The author invested enough into the details of 19th century England while still providing an insight into AJ's life back in the present day. 

He was doing something more extraordinary than anyone with a first class ticket had ever achieved: he had travelled in time, walked painlessly through two centuries and back again.

The mystery aspect was also done quite well, as a murder to solve fitted in well with the already slightly seedy setting in the past version of London. Although it was a tad predictable, towards the end the intensity of the storyline really picked up where it was in the beginning a little slow. Overall, the secondary characters were well developed, as AJ's friends Slim and Leon had their own issues to solve and parts to play, both in the past and present.


Overall, I would recommend this book to people looking for a quick historical mystery that also has a healthy dose of contemporary themes. Sally Gardner has showcased her diversity to write some very different stories so far, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.


  1. The Door That Led to Where seems like a fabulous book. I love mysteries, I love sci-fi twists, and most of all, I love Love LOVE historical fiction. This book just seems so perfect for me, even if it was a little bit predictable.

    1. It sounds like you would love this one Ana, I hope you get to read it and love it :)

  2. The mystery and the historical London setting sound interesting, not really my thing though but great review Genie! Thanks for sharing!

    1. That's alright Jeann, thanks for stopping by :)


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