the Book of Doors

The Book of Doors by Gareth Brown

Transworld Publishers, paperback, £7.05

Reviewed by Catherine Berridge

This novel gripped me from its opening pages.  The story begins in a bookshop in New York where the main protagonist, Cassie, works.  She is fortunate enough to be gifted a magical book by an elderly gentleman she befriends.  This is “The Book of Doors”, which has the message “any door is every door” inscribed on its first page.  She then makes her way home through the snow and the dark.  This scene conjured up for me both the loneliness of the protagonist and the thrill at the beginning of an adventure. 

The Book of Doors is a fantasy thriller.  The effect of “The Book of Doors” on the life of Cassie and her best friend Izzy is described, as well as the struggle to find the other magical books and keep them safe from dangerous and evil forces in the world.  A visit is also paid to The Fox Library, a library of magical books in the Scottish Highlands.   The pace of the novel is fast, and I was carried along by the story.  Although this is a book that deals with magic, it is described in a way that is believable.  The characters are convincing, and I found myself wanting them to prevail.  There is also a degree of horror, not enough to put off someone like me who does not read or watch horror, but enough to introduce a genuine element of fear. 

Of course, as the book begins in a bookshop and deals with the fate of magical books, it is a good read for book lovers.  Despite the length of the novel, approximately 400 pages, the story was so good I finished it quickly.  A genuine page-turner.

The prose is very clear, and there are convoluted twists and turns that keep you guessing.  The book is very cleverly plotted, almost as though the structure of the novel is one giant jigsaw puzzle.  Moreover, Gareth Brown is good at describing the emotional realities his characters face, and I found that there are even lessons that could be taken from this novel that I could use in my own life.  For example, it is important to make the best of a bad situation and to come to terms with death and the inevitable passage of time.

The Book of Doors is a novel I would certainly recommend for anyone who wants to curl up by a roaring fire and escape into the fantasy world of an evening. 

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