Reviewed by A. Hurst
Open Door follows the strange and confusing life of sixteen-year-old Carin, who takes a summer job from her “aunt”, a distant relative with a dark secret. Shortly after arriving at Mallace Estate, Carin begins to experience strange happenings and discovers a book that will reveal her destiny as the Legacy Holder.
I was really interested in this story from the get-go; the pitch was top-notch, the genre one of my favorites, and I really liked the concept of a living house. Unfortunately, that awesome concept is about all it was. I never really grew attached to any of the characters, and the method that the author used to tell the story was at best distracting. Most of the story is lost in time-jumps or summations, and the narration itself is a bit jumpy, head-hopping or telling the reader directly what a character is feeling.
Until I was a little over half the way through, I was interested in Carin and the legacy. After that though, a rather pointless and obtuse romance is thrown into the mix: a romance that didn’t need to be there and felt pretty contrived (Kissing after barely speaking? After just saying how annoying and frustrating a man was? Not believable.) After that point, the rushed nature of the reveal and extra plot elements only fueled my want to finish the book quickly, and at least find out what happened to the house. The ending was not all bad, though, and it had a good hook for a continued read, should YA be the reader’s interest.
Unfortunately, the Kindle edition of this book has pretty poor formatting, with no indents or spaces between paragraphs with time jumps, which only aided my confusion as scenes changed (these formatting issues did not ultimately factor into my star rating though). There was also a strange point in the book where everything is written as a letter to Carin’s mother, from Carin, and the English used there is pretty-outdated for something that supposedly happened in 1988. Things like “How you would have laughed, Mother.” are sentences I would expect to read in Jane Austen or Louisa May Alcott, definitely not from the pen of a 16-year-old in the late 80s.
Overall, it is a decent book, but not one of my favorites. People who might like a more gothic Matilda might be the book’s best audience, though I think a fair number of readers will be disappointed by the heavy exposition and lack of action through the central points of the book.