Thursday, October 15, 2020

Middle-Grade Review: The Door

In the mood for a light, easy read at the start of my #RIPXV Challenge months, I grabbed a middle-grade novel from my shelf of kids' books waiting to be read (this one from 2014!), The Door by Andy Marino. This very original fantasy novel took me on an imaginative trip to another world and kept me riveted.

Twelve-year-old Hannah lives in an isolated lighthouse on the North Atlantic coast with her mother. She's grown up in a very sheltered, unusual way, with her mother homeschooling her and no visitors allowed at the lighthouse. In fact, her mom seems kind of paranoid. One day, though, they finally get two visitors: an old friend of her dad's from out of town and his nephew, Kyle, who is a bit older than Hannah. They enjoy a nice dinner and fun evening with their visitors. Hannah's mom finally relents and allows Hannah to go to the public school for middle school, and Hannah is surprised--and delighted--to see Kyle there on her first day. Although she's been very excited to go to "real" school, Hannah's been a bit worried about how her classmates will react to some of her weird habits and tics, like her made-up language, the voices in her head, and her inability to walk up or down stairs normally. Kyle's presence, though, smooths things over. All in all, it's a pretty good first day ... until Hannah returns home to the lighthouse and finds that a tragedy has occurred. Although she is terrified and not entirely sure what to do, she knows she must take a chance and go through the mysterious door in the wall of the lighthouse (that appears to lead nowhere) in order to save her mother. What she finds there, though, is beyond her wildest dreams. As she searches for her mother, she finally learns, bit by bit, what her unusual life has meant.

What I've described takes place in the first 40 pages, and the rest of the book is what happens after Hannah goes through the door. To tell you any of it, though, would be to ruin the many surprises in store for Hannah and the reader in this unusual story. Suffice it to say that the author has an incredible imagination and has created a world like no other I've ever read about in fiction. It's a fantastical place filled with things both delightful and frightening, and it'swholly original. Along the way, Hannah meets both new friends and scary enemies, and there are lots of unexpected twists and turns. It looks like this book didn't attract much attention when it was released in 2014, which is a shame, as it is a hidden gem. I really enjoyed escaping into this unique, magical world and going along on Hannah's adventures with her.

297 pages, Scholastic

Scholastic Audio

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here and/or download it from Audible.


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Or you can order The Door from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. What a cool sounding book, I could see it doing really well with junior high students--something more exciting than their lives.

    1. That's why I enjoyed it, too! lol Nice escape.