I loved The Portable Door. It was a funny and quirky, lighthearted fantasy read. This is the first sequel in a trilogy. Paul and Sophie, the apparent mismatched couple, are now living together. The story begins with Paul offered an unusual promotion, a promotion that seems way beyond his abilities and a little undeserved. He takes it, naturally. And so begins the start of the trouble.
All seems rosy until he comes home one day to see that Sophie has left him. The note explains that she was offered a sudden transfer to Los Angeles. Shocked, Paul falls into a slump and starts his new job. He soon finds his attention drawn to Melze, the new receptionist. Paul’s head is all over the place, which means he clearly didn’t think through the job description properly. When he realises it involved “pest control” he starts to wonder precisely what type of pest he is supposed to control. As he gets more and more infatuated with Melze, things start to take a strange turn. He begins to dream of Sophie, but these are not the normal pining dreams.
I really wanted to like this book. I thoroughly enjoyed The Portable Door and was looking forward to the next adventure of Paul and Sophie. However, there are several critical flaws in this book for me. Firstly, it rambles – a lot. Very little progress is made for most of the book. By halfway through, I am already bored with the plot. The only thing that kept my interest is wondering what (really) happened with Sophie.
The second flaw is that Sophie’s absence shows what a poorly defined character Paul Carpenter really is. The interplay between the two really drove the first book. She’s both a great foil and a love interest. Her absence screams the weaknesses out loud.
Thirdly, the story takes until the final 100 pages to get going. Although most of the events prior to this are relevant, they simply are not engaging enough. This is one of those books where you read a chapter and by the time you’ve finished reading it, you’ve already forgotten what the chapter was about. Nevertheless, it does pick up for the final 100 pages and I think I made more progress in the two days it took me to read those final 100 pages than it did in the week up to it.
This is a shame, because I really wanted to enjoy this book after loving Holt‘s prequel. There is a third in the sequences called Earth, Air, Fire and Custard. I’m not convinced that I want to read it.