The Door That Led To Where by Sally Gardner

Title: The Door That Led To Where
Author: Sally Gardner
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Buy this book: Amazon / Book Depository 
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?
I didn't know what to expect from The Door That Led To Where, I actually hadn't head anything about it before I received an email from the publisher. I have heard a lot about Sally Gardner though, especially her book Maggot Moon which I know has gotten a lot of high praise and amazing reviews. I had decided to look up The Door That Led To Where on Goodreads and see what it was about. I was instantly intrigued by this book, it not only contained time travel, it was also set in London, two things I love reading about. I decided then and there that this was a book I needed to read.

My dilemma with this book.
I find this book quite difficult to review, mostly because of the fact it's aimed at younger audience than the one I am used to. It's not aimed at young children, given the fact it contains a fair bit of violence, murder and a lot of swearing. But it doesn't read like a young adult book either, it definitely falls between the two. It's meant that when I've been reviewing it I've been looking at it differently, reviewing it as a book that's aimed more at younger teens. It's not the sort of book that I usually read, but it's one I ended up thoroughly enjoying and it has made me very excited to try more books by this author.

I completely understand now why Sally Gardner gets so much praise, she's one talented author. She not only brought to life a modern day London, she also brought 1830's London to life as well. This was one of those times where the time travel aspect of the book worked perfectly for me. It didn't bother me in the way it has a habit of doing in most other time travel books, usually because I tend to over think it. I loved the whole concept of Jobey's Door, that all AJ needed to do was walk through it and he'd find himself in the 1830's.

There's time travel and London!
I like the characters in this book, especially those of AJ and his two best friends, Leon and Slim. They're characters that feel very real, who talk and act exactly how you'd imagine people in their situation and from their area and upbringing would. I also like that they're characters that a younger teen reader can identify with. It also helps that Gardner creates wonderful banter between them all, and anyone who knows me knows that I love great banter between characters. They're three boys who haven't had the easiest start in life and are struggling, so the past is an escape for them all. It opens up chances for the boys that they wouldn't have dreamed of. I liked seeing the characters and their varying feelings about the past and what it could offer them. It's also good to see characters wrestling with the decision to stay in the past or to face their future in our time.

4/5 Butterflies

I'm actually just going to get straight to the point with this review and rate the book. It's a definite four out of five for me. The murder mystery element will be what appeals to the books target audience, it'll keep them reading. I loved and appreciated how well written this was, and how Gardner brought to life a part of London that tourists don't see, the more run down side to it. This was a 4/5 read for me because it's not my usual read, but I can see it being a 5/5 read for younger readers. I'd recommend this to parents who come in to my library, asking for advice on what to give their children to read. I'd also recommend to anyone who loves a good middle grade book, with an intriguing premise, interesting characters and a hint of mystery. 

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. 


  1. I have only read one book by Sally Gardner called The Red Necklace and it was a book I really liked so much that I bought a copy. So when I saw this pop up in a book haul of yours I knew I was interested to see your thoughts. A lot of her books fall into a strange age range, but this seems like something I will like! Can't wait to try it myself.

    1. I did quite enjoy it and it's made me want to try more of her books.

  2. Oooh, muuuurder. *giggles like a pyscho* So I just read 2 reviews of this literally back to back and I WANT TO TRY IT but I don't think it's top of my list. I do read a few MG books, but I tend to be harsher on them. Which makes me sad. I'm pretty sure I'm just too old. (Or else it depends on m mood.) BUT! I'm adding on goodreads for sure.

    1. I did enjoy this, it just wasn't my usual read. I'd recommend it to others though.

  3. I love myself a good middle grade book. Mostly fantasy is where I go there. But the time travel aspect here I think I'd thoroughly enjoy it.
    Great review. I've definitely added this to my Goodreads. I'm always looking out for interesting middle grade books. :)
    Happy reading!
    Brittany @ This is the Story of My(Reading) Life

    1. It was really enjoyable, I'm just not used to reading middle grade books.

  4. I hadn't heard of this one before, but it is on my list now! Thanks for the review.


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