Beyond the Doors by David Neilsen (ARC Review)


Goodreads: Beyond the Doors
Series:  None
Source: ARC from author
Published: 2017


After their house burns down in a mysterious fire, the Rothbaum children move in with an aunt they have never heard of .  But Aunt Gladys is more than a little strange.  Her house is filled with doors and her pantry only holds cereal.  Worse, Aunt Gladys seems to be doing some sort of… experiments.


Beyond the Doors begins as a quirky middle-grade novel in which four children find themselves living with a strange aunt when a fire burns down their home and places their father in the hospital.  However, though living in a house that has no doors and can only be accessed by a drawbridge might seem at first to be innocuous, if a little odd, the children quickly learn that their new home is more dangerous than they imagined.  Their aunt is playing with forces that may be beyond her control and the boundaries she is attempting to cross are ones that are filled with horrors.  This is a deliciously creepy book filled with darkness and monsters.  And children will probably love every minute of it.

David Neilsen introduces his readers to a complex world in which memories can be preserved and accessed if a person knows what they are about.  However, rules here are a little different from what readers might expect.  Memory jumping can be costly.  A person can lose himself if he is not careful.  And, once a memory is accessed too many times, it starts to go…bad.  What once was an idyllic memory might turn into something horrible beyond imagination.  If readers thought Neilsen had used up his collection of terrors in Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom, they are in for a shock.

Darkness in middle grade can, of course, be a contentious point for some adult readers.  However, the popularity of writers such as R. L. Stine. Roald Dahl, and Shel Silverstein suggests that children are often attracted to the strange and the morbid.  If this book keeps readers up at night, I suspect it will only be because they do not want to put it down.

4 stars


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