Reminiscent of Clive Barker's ABARAT series, THE DOOR is a magical adventure filled with twisty turns and strange wonders.
This story is so much more strange and magical than you would ever expect. Just look at that cover. Read the synopsis. Sounds a bit droll, right? It is anything but!
The protagonist, Hannah Silver, is quite likable and endearing. She's a strange girl who lives in a lighthouse with her oddly paranoid mother. Just when Hannah thinks she's going to be a normal girl and go to school and make friends and everything, her mother is murdered right outside her own house!
Hannah embarks on a journey to the land of the dead to find her mother, who was murdered by a boy that she thought was her friend. The dead city is a massive, sprawling metropolis of oddities. There Hannah befriends Stefen, a quirky painter-boy, comes face-to-face with her imaginary friends Belinda and Nancy, and must avoid the scary Watchers who want to capture and imprison her.
The dead city is more magical than I have words to describe. Take, for example, this scene: ""Stefan was at her side, paintbrush sparkling with a dab of digitally enhanced skin from Charlemagne, who slunk about the floor with an arched back like a jungle cat poised for battle."" I smiled when I read it, because I could so very easily picture the feisty Charlemagne, who happens to be a chameleon, acting like a jungle cat. This is just one of pages and pages of lovely, yet weird, images that readers will enjoy.
At just about 300 pages long, THE DOOR is a self-contained epic of a story. It could easily have been much longer - Hannah goes through so much, makes such important friendships, and ventures into so many new places. The fact that it is all contained in one little book is simply incredible.
Teen and Middle Grade fans of Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snicket, and the ABARAT series will very much enjoy this book. However, the target audience is definitely younger readers looking for a story filled with magic and wonder and adventure.
Literary Merit: Great
Level: Ages 8 and up.