Review: The Door by the Staircase

The Door by the StaircaseThe Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can’t stand her orphanage for another night. But when an attempted escape through the stove pipe doesn’t go quite as well as she’d hoped, Mary fears she’ll be stuck in the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies forever. 

The very next day, a mysterious woman named Madame Z appears at the orphanage requesting to adopt Mary, and the matron’s all too happy to get the girl off her hands. Soon, Mary is fed a hearty meal, dressed in a clean, new nightgown and shown to a soft bed with blankets piled high. She can hardly believe she isn’t dreaming!

But when Mary begins to explore the strange nearby town with the help of her new friend, Jacob, she learns a terrifying secret about Madame Z’s true identity. If Mary’s not careful, her new home might just turn into a nightmare.

Award-winning author Katherine Marsh draws from Russian fairytales in this darkly funny middle-grade fantasy novel 

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and Disney Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.

When I first heard about this it sounded right up my alley. I did not hesitate to select ‘Wish it’ on Netgalley. Needless to say I was very happy when it was available for request. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this!

The book begins with Mary trying to escape the orphanage. Her mother and brother died in a fire. The only reason she is alive is because she snuck out to read a fairytale book that her brother gave her. She awoke in the snow to the sounds of her mother and brothers screams. She has been in the orphanage since then.

Although Mary does not like it. The woman who owns the orphanage is rude and extremely mean to all the girls. Mary does not wish to live there any more so she devised a plan to sneak out through the chimney.

After some struggle she escapes the building. Once she is outside though a whirlwind starts. She tries running through the whirlwind but it is no use. Mrs. Boots (the owner of the orphanage) awakes and finds Mary trying to sneak out. When she goes to get her the whirlwind stops. And Mary assumes that she must have been seeing things.

The next day a woman is looking for a girl to adopt. Much to Mary’s surprise she chooses her. Mary excitedly gathers her belongings and leaves the orphanage. The woman who adopted her is Madame Z. She’s Russian. She promises to feed and take care of Mary.

After some time they arrive in the town where Madame Z lives. Iris. It’s a very odd town. She serves Mary some food and promises to go shopping for Mary’s essentials. Madame Z takes Mary to get her a coat. After she has gotten Mary a coat, Madame Z allows Mary to explore the town meanwhile she runs some errands.

Mary comes across Jacob, the son of an illusionist. The two quickly become friends. Over the past few days life is perfect for Mary. She is well feed and taken care off. Then she starts to notice odd things. Like the orange light at night, and the tiny door that has no key. Soon she realizes that Madame Z is not who she claims to be. Together Jacob and Mary try to uncover Madame Z’s real identity while trying to stay alive.

This was a really sweet story! I loved the friendship between Jacob and Mary. They fit so well together. Madame Z is not what I expected to be. In the end I actually liked her. It was nice reading about all the various characters that come in with their quirks. What I especially loved was how this story is about family and finding your home with your family.

I don’t have any criticism for this. It’s four stars because while I thoroughly enjoyed this I didn’t love it.

Overall this was a sweet story! I recommend it to fans of fairytale retellings and fantasy.

View all my reviews


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