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The Door That Lead to Where

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  780 ratings  ·  175 reviews
Will he find a fresh start in the present—or in the past?

AJ Flynn has just failed all but one of his major exams, and at almost seventeen years old, he sees a future that’s far from rosy. So when he’s offered a junior clerk position at a London law firm, he hopes his life is about to change—and it does, but he could never have imagined how much.

While on the job, AJ finds a
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 8th 2016 by Delacorte Press (first published January 1st 2015)
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3.5 stars

Sally Gardner's novels have garnered (HAHA DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?! I'm funny. Deal with it people) a lot of praise and recognition over the years so it's no surprise that I read this book with high expectations. While this book had a rocky start for me, I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable for most of the part.

AJ Flynn is your average teenager. He lives with his single mother who doesn't want anything to do with AJ because she believes th
Saleh MoonWalker
پیشروی سیر اصلی داستان جوریه که میخوای زودتر به آخرش برسی تا ببینی که شخصیت اصلی در نهایت چه تصمیمی گرفت. تصمیم گرفت در زمان به عقب برگرده یا جایی که متولد شده بمونه. شروع داستان معمولیه. اِ جِی فلین 16 ساله دوباره خراب کرده، فقط یکی از امتحاناشون پاس کرده و مادرش هم یه قرار مصاحبه برای شرکت در مدرسه حقوق لندن براش ترتیب داده. زندگی مادرش هم سخته و در داستان حضور داره. از اونجایی که اِی جی کتابخونه، موقع مصاحبه درسیش، از آثار کلاسیک صحبت میکنه و باعث میشه و مصاحبه کننده ازش خوشش بیاد. اما قبل از ...more
This needed to be at least twice as long as it was, and then it would have been a fantastic book. As it is, it reads more like an outline or a rough draft of a stage play than anything, and coming off of Gardner's magnificent Maggot Moon, I felt profoundly disappointed.

The Door That Led to Where is a book about time travel. I love books about time travel, whether plausible or implausible! It's just a fun concept, period. However, time travel inherently creates massive complications, which need t
Cat  (cat-thecatlady)
the premise and the story overall are pretty interesting! such a shame the writing fails and doesn't deliver the greatness this book could achieve!
full review here:
Dec 10, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not enjoy this book at all: I wanted to stop reading halfway through. The movement of the story halfway through just dragged on so much. Additionally, the plot was just lost on me! It is a blend between time travel, murder mystery and modern life drama: the murderer was completely sprung upon us at the last second because it wasn't a character we had any depth into until the final few pages and the whole time travel thing was just completely lost on me: such an over-complicated plot and it ...more
My first Sally Gardner, and not a disappointment. A clever time-slip novel, set in the 21st and 19th centuries, the main character of AJ is instantly recognisable - a lost and aimless youth who is given a break when he is taken into chambers as a baby clerk. But the position reveals more of the past, and in particular AJ's past, than he bargained for.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Very cool concept, and written in a way that I enjoyed (though it took me a while to get used to the British-ness and the fact that it was third person. after like, four first person books in a week, that was really throwing me off, lol. and the British slang in this is veryyy heavy).

I didn't really get attached to any of the characters, except maybe Elsie, but I did really like the bond between the three boys. I could really tell how much they cared about each other (view spoiler)
Kailyn Kausen
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Denver Public Library
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lisab, teen
AJ and his friends, Slim and Leon live in the poorer part of London. They don’t have a lot of advantages and their life is a tough as you’d believe, gangs, drugs, absent parents. They have all been told that they’ll end up losers. AJ, who only passes one of his final exams, receives out of the blue a job offer at a law firm. There he finds a key labeled with his name and birth date. When he finds the door that the key opens, it leads him to another London in 1830 and this is where the intrigue b ...more
Charnell (Reviews from a Bookworm)
I didn't know what to expect from The Door That Led To Where, I actually hadn't head anything about it before I received an email from the publisher. I have heard a lot about Sally Gardner though, especially her book Maggot Moon which I know has gotten a lot of high praise and amazing reviews. I had decided to look up The Door That Led To Where on Goodreads and see what it was about. I was instantly intrigued by this book, it not only contained time travel, it was also set in London, two things ...more
Firstly, let me admit that I had not read anything by Sally Gardner before this book. Secondly, I ask myself the question : why did I leave it this long?
The Door That Led to Where is fabulous. A time-slip/mystery/friendship/fantasy/realist novel that defies being categorised (obviously), and holds the reader right to the very end. Gardner's characters are top-notch. You become invested in them without even noticing it is happening - until you read the last few pages with tears in your eyes.
AJ an
Really 3.5 *'s because it is quite an adventure. My first read of the author; and I'm not sure which age range this is geared to: 11 to 15 or Young Adult - since the protagonist is 17.

Nice bit of time-travel back to 1830's London; and a nice little murder-mystery to solve.
AJ (otherwise Aiden Jobey) joins a Grey's Inn law company as a baby clerk - since he's only managed to get the one GCSE. Sorting through old documents he finds an old-fashioned key with his name written on the label, and this k
Beth Bonini
Unlike some writers, Sally Gardner doesn't have a recognisable writing style. Her historical novels like the The Red Necklace and I, Coriander have an entirely different prose style than Maggot Moon (with its very distinctive voice) or this latest novel -- which is an entirely different thing again. What is consistent throughout are her forays into history, the fascination with magic, and her championing of the underdog protagonist. This is the most realistic of Gardner's novel, although it does ...more
Chloe (thelastcolour)
Absolutely stunning cover - underneath the dust jacket is a map of London! It was difficult determining which genre to shelve this book, there is historical fiction as the reader is transported back to Victorian England, thus combining time travel and elements of fantasy. I really enjoyed this book and it left me feeling satisfied. Absolutely no need for a sequel. I highly recommend this. I went into this book blind so i'm keeping this review as vague as possible :)
Trigger warnings: murder, violence, drug abuse, death of a parent.

This...was slow to start. Like, there was no time travel involved until about a third of the way through this not-very-long book.

And there was a LOT going on here. There was AJ's home situation. His friends and THEIR home situations. AJ mysteriously getting a job. AJ trying to work out the mystery around his father. AJ time travelling. AJ trying to solve the mystery. AJ trying to find the papers to prove what he's discovered.

Sam Musher
This was a recommendation from a 7th grader whose taste I share, and she was not wrong. (Note to self: next time she needs a book, foist Gardner's Maggot Moon upon her -- it's a weird-ass book that I can never get anyone to read, but I kind of love it and the author connection may work, even though story-wise it's a much stranger sell than than this one. Anyway.)

I loved its straight-up Britishness: you really feel you are in another country; it's not "translated" for American audiences the way H
This oddly-titled book will have readers turning its pages compulsively to get to the ending so they can figure out what its protagonist decides to do: Should he go back in time or should he stay where he was born? The book starts off in a fairly typical fashion. Sixteen-year-old AJ Flynn has messed up once again, only passing one of his major exams, and his mother has set up an interview for him at a London law firm. His home life is less than pleasant as his mother, someone he regards as "the ...more
First of all, thanks to Hot Key Books for sending me an ARC of this novel. Very thankful.

This is my second Sally Gardner novel I read, "Maggot Moon" being the first and I have the same feeling reading "The Door That Led to Where".
They are fine books, I can't pinpoint what it is that makes me not like Gardner novels more. They are good stories, but they just don't grab me.

I read "The Door That Led to Where" enthusiastically but at the end I got kind of bored and it's a story, I'm sad to say, wil
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aj has only passed one of his GCSEs - English with an A* thanks to his habit of hiding in the library and reading classic literature. Somehow his shouty mum manages to finagle him an interview at a London law firm and AJ is taken on as a clerk. The interview is the first time he ever realises that he isn't just called AJ but does have a name. Whilst working in the archives one day he finds an ornate rusty key - with his name and date of birth on it - and decides he must find the door that the ke ...more
Gaby Meares
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gobbled this up in a matter of days. I read a lot of YA and I felt this stood out from the crowd. Our hero, AJ, has just got his exam results from the English equivalent of the HSC and hasn't done well at all (except English where he excelled!).His home life is grim; he has never met his father and his mother and her new partner are abusive. His two best buddies are both in similar places. So far, so ordinary teenage issues. Until AJ starts work as a "baby clerk" at Baldwin Groat law firm. It' ...more
Book Review originally published here:

An enjoyable book that mixes a lot of different genres into a surprising, unique tale. The main downside is how slow the story is at the start. The writing just didn’t really impress me, and sometimes I even glanced past some of the plot developments because they happened so casually. While the book had a great concept (I love time travel in just about any shape or form), the writing needed some work and the plot wasn
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually 4.5. Such an enjoyable read! At first it was slow, but it really picked up towards the end. A really good book filled with time travel and mystery! Sally Gardner writes another amazing book. Read Maggot Moon!!!!
This is a lovely read... It gently carries us through a moment in time of 3 teen boys... Each sharing different aspects of dysfunctional lives. They get given an opportunity to recreate themselves when one of them discovers he can time travel. Heart warming, intrigue, and a splattering of history. Would suit the 'keeping it real' fans who want to take it up a notch.
Dec 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was slightly disappointed with this book, it didn't blow me away like her other work. Maximum potential was not achieved and some parts were slightly long-winded. However, Sally Gardner is still one of the most impressive writers and I'm sure to read more from her in the future.
Bonnie Arriola
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an awesome storyline!
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written, wonderful descriptions and language used. Great concept of a door into the past and the troubles that it would bring. Kept me gripped to find out the ending.
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
„The Door That Led to Where“ is an excellent contemporary YA book, but a not so excellent historical novel. This is the first book by Sally Gardner that I read, though I’ve heard (from Ella) that she is pretty well-known as an author of children’s and young adult books, and I can very well believe that; her characters are authentic and realistic, the voice of her main character, AJ, is enjoyable, and the plot of this book is tight and tense, even though it’s not quite as sprawling as a book with ...more
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Again a German review:

Sally Gardner, das muss ich gleich zu Beginn dieser Rezension sagen, ist eine fantastische Autorin, die mich jedes Mal aufs Neue in ihre faszinierenden Welten zieht, nur um mich am Ende mit einem großen und ganz interessanten Fragezeichen zurückzulassen. Aber eines kann man sagen: Sally ist eine tolle Autorin, deren Geschichten so viel Tiefgang haben und einen zum Nachdenken anregen. So auch The Door That Led To Where, das ganz harmlos zu beginnen scheint.

Zunächst treffen w
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This was surprisingly enjoyable! It took me a little while to find my footing, as there's no lead up or backstory or any kind of extraneous detail -- we just plunge straight into AJ being pushed into a job at a law firm by his harpy of a mother after he only gets one GCSE, and I felt as bewildered as AJ at the rapid turn of events. But! Once the story gets going, it's just so much fun. AJ was adorably relatable, and I LOVED Elsie (at one point she hides a spy camera in her woolly bobble hat alsd ...more
Donna Siebold
AJ has a rough and tumble life in London. His mother is a harridan and his prospects look dim as he scored miserably on his GCSEs.

To his surprise his mother tells him he has a job interview with a law firm. He manages to secure a position on a trial basis as a junior clerk. And, then things start to get interesting.

His employers refer to him as Aiden Jobey and he goes along with it, though he has never been called anything other than AJ by his family.

One of his tasks is cleaning out a room and
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Sally Gardner grew up and still lives in London. Being dyslexic, she did not learn to read or write until she was fourteen and had been thrown out of several schools, labeled unteachable, and sent to a school for maladjusted children. Despite this, she gained a degree with highest honors at a leading London art college, followed by a scholarship to a theater school, and then went on to become a ve ...more