MCPL logo

Marathon County Public Library

Skip Navigation ATTENTION: Please review our updated checkout policies that take effect on 11/29.

The Door By the Staircase

Cover: 'The Door By the Staircase'

Staff Review: "The Door By the Staircase" by Katherine Marsh, Kelly Murphy


Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes is miserable. She is so miserable that she attempts an escape up the small, sooty stovepipe from the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies, where, as an older child, there’s literally no chance of getting adopted, especially when the head mistress dislikes you. So when an old woman with a big nose, Madame Z, shows up to adopt her, she’s sure her luck may be changing. However, even with warm clothes, scrumptious and plentiful food, her own room, and the apparent kindness and generosity of Madame Z, she begins to notice some odd things—like the strange town with its unusual businesses, the extremely large oven, the locked door by the staircase, and some increasingly peculiar things about her new “mother”. Mary discovers that she has a choice between fear and flight, or perhaps what might be an even more difficult choice. Just when parts of this story begin to sound somewhat familiar, there are some surprising twists. I loved this compelling story with its strong, interesting, well-developed characters, and was surprised at how difficult it was to put this book down. Written for tweens, you too will enjoy this funny, heart-warming fantasy.

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

check it out more reviews