Kathy Ryan #2: Behind the Door – Mary SanGiovanni

There is a Door in the middle of the woods. It’s been there as long as anyone can remember but no one knows who or what “them behind the Door” are. You can use the Door one time and one time only. You need to word your letter carefully, seal it with wax and your blood, and slip it under the door alone at night. You can ask it to do anything at all and three days later you get what you want, “more or less”.

“You don’t always get it how you want it. And there’s no way to take it back, sugar, because rule number one is that you absolutely, under no circumstances ever, open that Door. Once you deliver your letter, it is out of your hands.”

Would you use it? Would you ask it to remove a burden or give you something you’ve always wanted? I asked myself these questions and decided that although there are definitely experiences I wish I’d never had or things that are out of my reach that I’ve always wanted, the risk of using the Door would outweigh any potential benefits for me. In weighing this up though, I know I’m only doing so hypothetically. Who knows what I would do if the Door was right in front of me.

Due to the power of the Door and the amount of people who have used it there were a lot of potential triggers in the content, including suicide, family violence, sexual assault and paedophilia. What probably shouldn’t have surprised me but did was my reaction to certain characters. Once the Door was opened (it had to happen) and all hell started breaking loose I found the way I felt about the characters depended upon the details of the burden they had described in their letter.

I was concerned for the safety of some characters. I was anticipating with unbridled glee the potential comeuppance of others. I hoped for the redemption of some and the extended torture of others. I worked out the connection between a couple of characters early on and had looked forward to being a spectator as the dots were joined; although this wasn’t resolved the way I had hoped I’m not disappointed.

My favourite character was Cicely, Kari’s friend, who I found to be compassionate, wise and down to earth. She was the only character I ended up with a mental picture of and for some still unknown reason she wound up looking and sounding like author Toni Morrison in my head.

Kathy Ryan, a consultant to law enforcement agencies who specialises in the occult and supernatural, is called in to try to contain what was unleashed on this town when the Door was opened. The marketing for Behind the Door told me this was the first in a new series but once I started reading I discovered it’s actually the second, so Kathy’s character joins the story without a great deal of background information.

In Behind the Door you learn more about each of the townsfolk than you do about Kathy and I expect that the scar that’s mentioned several times and her less than perfect family that’s alluded to are explained in the preceding book, Chilled. Yes, I bought that book immediately after finishing this one and am already looking forward to reading it as well as the forthcoming Inside the Asylum.

I really had fun reading this book. There was enough information given about the characters (with the exception of Kathy) for me to become invested in their lives. The consequences of the Door being opened were interesting, with some gore and creepiness, but nothing that turned my stomach or made me want to look away. I enjoyed watching the chaos unfold and loved that I was able to suspend my disbelief as I got swept along for the ride.

There were a few question marks that remained for me after finishing this book, such as why Cecily never appeared to tell Kathy the words her husband had spoken to her, which seemed vitally important at the time. I also wondered about what seemed to me to be an inconsistency; whether the Door could be photographed or not. Kathy uses photos of the Door to help her solve the case yet makes a point of noting that it wasn’t odd that there are no photos of the Door in the Heritage Centre as “Often, such interdimensional oddities negatively affected digital and film media.”

My main niggles with this book were the ending and the limited information provided about “them behind the door”. While there were assumptions made and theories shared about their motivation I really wanted to know more. I also wanted information in the epilogue about how the events affected the individual townsfolk long term rather than how long Kathy stayed in the town after the events. I wanted to know how the resolution affected Cecily in particular as the ramifications for her could have been catastrophic. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll find out what happens to Cecily later in the series.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Lyrical Underground, an imprint of Kensington Books, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Some doors should never be opened …

In the rural town of Zarepath, deep in the woods on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, stands the Door. No one knows where it came from, and no one knows where it leads. For generations, folks have come to the Door seeking solace or forgiveness. They deliver a handwritten letter asking for some emotional burden to be lifted, sealed with a mixture of wax and their own blood, and slide it beneath the Door. Three days later, their wish is answeredfor better or worse.

Kari is a single mother, grieving over the suicide of her teenage daughter. She made a terrible mistake, asking the powers beyond the Door to erase the memories of her lost child. And when she opened the Door to retrieve her letter, she unleashed every sin, secret, and spirit ever trapped on the other side.

Now, it falls to occultist Kathy Ryan to seal the door before Zarepath becomes hell on earth …

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