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The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner is an intriguing novel for teens that gripped me from the get go. Gardner is probably best known for her award winning novel, Maggot Moon, which won the 2013 Carnegie Medal. I have yet to read it, but based on this, I will be digging it out to put on the 2017 to read pile.

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AJ is sixteen years old, and up to now his life has been a hard one. His mother lives with a series of unsuitable partners and never speaks to AJ about his own father, who AJ never knew. His relationship with his mum is troubled, and things reach a new low when he only achieves one A* grade for English in his GCSEs, failing all the rest.  She throws him out and he is forced to live with a downstairs neighbour who is the closest thing to family AJ has ever known.

Out of nowhere, his mother finds him a job as a trainee clerk at a prestigious law firm at Gray’s Inn in London. AJ knows she must have pulled some strings for him, but has no idea how his mother knows about the law firm or what connection she has to it. As he works there he begins to uncover more mysteries and more links to his family and his unlikely place of employment.

This is a fast paced time slip/travel story which juxtaposes the Victorian London of Charles Dickens with the gang infested, urban Landscape of twenty first century London. It is full of mysterious twists and turns in the plot which mean that every chapter is compelling and you can never quite guess where the story will take you.

At times I would have liked a little more detail, back story and to have some of the plot lines more developed. This wasn’t because they were lacking. The story works very well. It’s just that I was so drawn into what was going on, I wanted to know more. I really rather hoped that Gardner might develop this into a series, although I feel she probably won’t.

Dealing as it does with aspects of drug addiction and gang activities, this is too old for a primary school library, although possibly you could recommend it for a precocious year six group, but it would be fantastic for a high school library and it deserves to be widely read.

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