Book Review: The Portable Door by Tom Holt

Paul Carpenter is a bit of a sad case. Socially inept, living alone, a succession of unrealised crushes (he falls in love with practically every girl he meets), he has no job and no money. When he applies for a mundane job he doesn’t want and promptly fluffs the interview, he doesn’t expect to be offered employment. Neither does he expect that the thin, hostile girl would also given a job and end up being put into the same office with her.

And the job is boring but as time goes on and he starts to feel some affection for the new girl, things start to turn a little weirder. The company refuses overtime, kicking the staff out bang on 1pm for lunch and 5.30 for home time, locking the door with no re-admission. Slowly, the secrets of the business are revealed as the pair are given tasks that become increasingly bizarre.I love his way with words, particularly the way he describes people which makes unusual and animated description almost seem normal. New girl and love interest Sophie is described as “thin and angular, almost like a bat”. This method applies to most of the characters who, as people, are larger than life without being absurd.

Because of the urban fantasy genre, the comedy element and his style of writing, comparison with Robert Rankin is inevitable. Judging by this book alone, Tom Holt’s work is far less surreal than Rankin with fewer wordplay gags. These differences are superficial, fans of one will undoubtedly like the work of the other.

It has amazing flow, Tom Holt is a fine crafter of the written word and you’ll make a considerable dent in one sitting quite easily as the pages fly by. Only other commitments prevented me finishing this in two or three nights.

My one complaint is that the plot takes a while to get going. It isn’t really clear which direction the story is heading until perhaps 100 pages from the end. The titular “portable door” is not even mentioned for the first half of the book. But these are minor complaints for a highly recommended read.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Portable Door by Tom Holt

  1. Matthew Rowe

    Yes it’s definitely a favourite writer of mine too. I think I like urban fantasy because it makes our boring lives more interesting. The idea that something special can happen every day, right here. I haven’t read this one yet but I’ll probably check it out.

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