AJ’s failed all his GCSEs except one; English. He loves disappearing into worlds other than his own. His mother, the Red Lizard, couldn’t care less about him unless he’s bringing money in. When AJ lands an interview at a top law firm, he can’t believe it, it must be a mistake. But soon he discovers a link between his father, who he never knew, and the firm, not to mention a mysterious door that leads to the past.

I would not live in your world, Mr Jobey. It smells of something far worse than unwashed bodies; it stinks of loneliness.

Sally Gardner does a wonderful job of portraying both modern day and 19th century London, the similarities and differences. Everyday life in 1830 is tough but for some it holds more promise than now. Sometimes all people need to get on in life is a blank slate. With no preconceptions and prejudices, a young man has more hope even when there is little.

Human beings are basically all the same, it’s only the gadgets that have changed. His world was cluttered with emails, texts and mobile phones and still, he thought, we don’t know how to communicate.

All too often, young adult protagonists come from middle class background, or have at least one loving parent in the wings. It’s important to see characters like Sally’s, who do represent a lot of teenagers today. Many are facing futures with little prospects, even minimum wage jobs being hard to get and with families that don’t love them unconditionally. AJ’s adventure might be fantastical but there’s a lot of reality within the pages.

It really emphasises how bad it’s getting for the latest generation of teenagers that a life in the past offers greater potential than the present. However the story is also a well-paced murder mystery and a tale of friendship.

The Door That Led to Where is published by Hot Key Books and is available in hardback and ebook editions from 1st January 2015. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.