The Door That Led to Where
Hot Key Books 2015
Sally Gardner, award-winning author (for “Maggot Moon”) and no newbie as far as historical novels are concerned, has turned her talented hand to a strongly Dickensian novel with a thoroughly modern 21st- century setting.
AJ Flynn (aka 16-year-old Aiden Jobey) is a failure with only one good GCSE result and a mother who constantly berates him for his shortcomings. However, she still helps him to find a job with a prestigious legal firm. Then by coincidence he finds a key that opens a portal to the London of 1830 – and suddenly AJ finds himself in a world full of intrigue, crime, shady landladies plus a damsel in distress. To top it all AJ’s personal fate and family history seem in some way to be interwoven with the events back in 1830. And while he is taking his two hoodie-friends Slim and Leon to 1830, where they can put their small-town-gangsta-talents to good use, AJ and his beloved Esme seem to thrive in the 21st century. But before any final decisions can be made, some mysteries have to be solved…
Gardner gives a good rendering of the world of Clerkenwell and Holborn in the early 1800s, better than the young Dickens actually, because, as Dickens-fan AJ soon learns, nobody has heard of the young journalist yet.
So even though the story is sometimes slightly confusing, the book is well worth reading, especially because of its wide range of well-constructed and highly believable characters.