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The Door That Lead to Where

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,014 ratings  ·  205 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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Average rating 3.53  · 
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 ·  1,014 ratings  ·  205 reviews

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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
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
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)
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. ...more
Kailyn Kausen
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
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
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
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 :) ...more
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
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helped Claudia with this for her accelerated reader as she was struggling to get into it. I think I enjoyed it more than she did.
Brittany Walker (NekosBooks)
Solid book but the mystery before the murders was figured out to quickly and was staring you right in the face so even though it was well put together I didn't find it interesting. What I was interested in is the decision AJ made in the end and how everything would end for him and his friends.

And wouldn't them staying in the past drastically change the future? If so would we only see this change once the door is locked or would it only happen once they do something drastic like solving a series
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
Adele Broadbent
Spoilers below.....

I liked this story about a boy called AJ living in current London. I liked his character from the first page, and although his mother was truly horrible to him, (he called her the red reptile), AJ is a gentle character, loyal to his mates Slim and Leon and with a love of Dickens.
When his mum gives him a letter from a local law firm, offering him a job interview, he is surprised but keen. With help from a neighbour (who has looked after him more than his mother ever has), he is
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
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Got this for my birthday from my bestie and loved it so much.

The story is not the most original one (timeslip, first love, friends and hardships) but the characters were golden. It's been a while since I enjoyed a YA narrator as much as I enjoyed AJ's voice in this book. He's clever and sarcastic and very easy to love.

I loved the theme of leaving your friends behind (letting go of something) because it's best for them.

The mystery wasn't the most clever thing. I figured it out early on but that
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Don't know why Sally Gardner doesn't show up on my TBR pile more often, because I love everything that I find. Unfortunately this British author never gets the promotion in American bookstores and libraries that she deserves. This latest time travel novel is a great reboot of several Victorian melodrama scenarios and an interesting meditation on finding a place where you belong. Also a tip of the hat to Doctor Who and Charles Dickens. Yes, yes, all very British but if you watch any PBS or Acorn ...more
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!!!! ...more
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. ...more
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. ...more
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.
Bonnie Arriola
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an awesome storyline!
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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

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“What are you on?' said AJ. 'Leon's mum has died and you are determined to add to the total sum of misery by going out with the girlfriend of the nastiest piece of manhood that was ever assembled in the factory of life...” 1 likes
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