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The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner

The Door That Led to Where

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January 2015 NewGen Book of the Month.

A new novel by multi-award winning Sally Gardner is always highly anticipated. She is one of the most original writers of today, and The Door That Led To Where is typical of her writing: a story that will surprise readers as it intrigues and absorbs them. This is a time travel novel. AJ, the young hero, is able to travel through a door – a door to which he alone has the key – and into the London of 1830. Dickens is a palpable presence in the book and would have appreciated the story that unfolds, one of missing children, madness and murder. Both Londons – today’s and yesterday’s – are brought to life in vivid prose and images. AJ and his associates are great company and it looks like there may be more adventures for them to come – good news for readers! ~ Andrea Reece

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereadings Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Ronan McCarthy - 'I like that it incorporates time travel and mystery as well a story about three boys trying to get their lives together.'
  • Delilah Acworth - 'an entirely intoxicating read, full of adventure and personal endeavour...her words leap from the pages and become moving, fire breathing images.'
  • Amisha McCrystal - 'Time travel with a difference!  This is the most believable story of time travel...I had this novel finished far too soon and I hope she has a sequel.'
  • Poppy - 'It was very gripping and exciting. I didn't like some of the language used, but the characters were good and imaginable.'
  • Hannah Bibby - 'What an amazing book! Full of excitement and suspense, adventure and mystery, it tells the story of two different times. Once you pick this book up, you won't want to put it back down!'
  • Ella Hollingshead - 'A good read, however I thought there were too many characters and found myself having to flip back to remind myself who was who on several occasions.'
  • Katherine Sheldon - 'an astounding book that doesn’t stop surprising you with the information it reveals until the very end.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'If you like adventure, mystery and time travel with some heart warming scenes then this is the book for you!'
  • Louisa Cunliffe – 'Time Travel, Mystery, Murder and Romance. This book has a bit for everyone. The Door That Led To Where is face paced, intriguing and keeps you guessing until the very last page.'
  • Madi Campbell - 'a fascinating novel which brings the past to life, Sally Gardener manages to activate your imagination and create a world of mystery via the beautiful descriptions and imagery used throughout.'
  • Destiny Maraj - 'a brilliant, funny eye-opening and dramatic novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  I thought the plot was fascinating and clever and I loved all the mysteries.'  


The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner

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?


Captures the mood of a generation. * The Times * Gardner pulls off a brilliant balancing act as her flawed hero travels between the two periods, discovering that, sometimes, a fresh start in a new environment can restore and heal those whose future - or past - looks hopeless. Rollicking stuff. -- Sally Morris * Daily Mail * Sally Gardner is quite possibly my favourite children's author of all time. Her poetic prose and seemingly effortless ability to flit from genre to genre never ceases to astonish me * The Independent * Striking, elegant ... Gardner's humane message will resonate with teens everywhere: keep looking for that door, as one day you'll find it - and maybe, once you've gone through, you'll even want to lock it behind you -- Philip Womack * The Spectator * As the three tangle with poison, treachery and love, the novel asks whether the past was better at granting the young responsibility, opportunities and adulthood... subtle, beautifully written and captivating. Enjoy. * New Statesman * The story, which is set in the present and in 1830, makes both centuries vivid and credible. Unfolding a complicated mystery without losing us, it is told with uncliched brio and contains characters to care about, while making us consider what a difference a fresh start could make to those who have few opportunities * The Sunday Times * Gardner vividly juxtaposes the drug deaths and gang rivalry of the present with the top hats and formality of the early 19th century ... Gardner's clever tale is enjoyably complex. * Financial Times * Witty novel, populated by wonderfully diverse characters -- Carole Redford * Inis Reading Guide * Brilliant time-slip thriller for young people . . . Short chapters with a very funny, fast-paced dialogue and a rapidly unfolding plot make this book a page-turner -- Rosemary Woodman * School Library Association *

About the Author

Sally Gardner

Sally Gardner is an award-winning novelist from London. Her books have been translated into 22 languages and have sold more than one million copies in the UK.

Her historical novel for older readers, I, Coriander, won the Smarties Children's Book Prize in 2005. Two thrillers both set at the time of the French Revolution, The Red Necklace and The Silver Blade, which was shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 2009, followed. Actor Dominic West ('The Wire') has bought the film rights to both titles.

Sally Gardner's stories for middle readers include Lucy Willow and the popular Magical Children series of six titles The Strongest Girl in the World, The Invisible Boy, The Boy with Magic Numbers, The Smallest Girl in the World, The Boy with the Lightning Feet, and The Boy who Could Fly, which are also available as audio books.

She has also written and illustrated picture books including The Fairy Catalogue, The Glass Heart, The Book of Princesses and Playtime Rhymes.

The Double Shadow is published in November 2011.

Sally Gardner continues to be an avid spokesperson for Dyslexia, working to change the way it is perceived by society. She is dyslexic and argues that it's not a disability, but a gift.

If you'd love to know more about Sally, click here to download a more detailed biography and Q&A.

To see a video of Sally talking about her book Fairy Shopping - CLICK HERE

Or watch a video of her talking about The Silver Blade:

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Book Info

Publication date

1st January 2015


Sally Gardner

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Hot Key Books


288 pages
Interest Age: From 13 to 15 years


NewGen - YA Fiction
Books of the Month
eBook Favourites

Fantasy & magical realism (Children's / Teenage)
Historical fiction (Children's / Teenage)



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