A Narrow Door, Joanne Harris
E-audiobook, 12 hours
Audiobook released Jan 4th 2022, book released August 10th 2021
This audiobook was provided to me at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
This book is dual POV, with one perspective from Rebecca’s (“Bex” for the most part), who is arguably the main character and also arguable the villain. (I think the “real” main character is Roy Straightley, who is the other POV and who the other two books in the series are about, but I did not read those books, and I don’t think you really need to to understand this book). It’s told over various points of her life, from when she was just starting to become a teacher and when she finally became the headmistress at St. Oswald’s Grammar School. She is haunted by when her brother disappeared/was murdered when she was five when he was possibly killed by a childhood monster called Mister Smallface who is absolutely a metaphor for something else, possibly the fact that she herself killed him. She also has a six-year-old daughter in the timeline when she is just becoming a teacher.
The other POV in this book belongs to Roy Straightley, who is the Latin teacher and haunted by the fact that his best friend was a child abuser and also possibly a murderer. He also tells a gay student that “he doesn’t care as long as it doesn’t interfere with his Latin” and also when a trans student tries to come out to him he has a heart and/or panic attack (it is unclear) and is like “pronouns are confusing, I’m very old!”, which certainly is Some Kind of Social Commentary. Get good, Roy Straightley.
Also they find a body on school grounds which we do not follow up on until after 50% of the book. (This is the Hook of the book but it does not seem super important to literally anyone).
Starting out, this book felt like Dark Academia But Told From The Teacher’s Perspective, but actually there are no secret societies and barely any murder and also it takes place at an elementary school.
This book skips around in the timeline a lot and repeats a lot of its stuff to the point where I was really confused where I was in the book and thought that I had accidentally repeated part of it, but actually it is just like that. I was very into “the monster of Mister Smallface who lives in the drain” the first three times and then after that my suspension of disbelief was kind of shattered, especially with how the word “fruitily” is frequently used in reference to the drain gurgling.
I listened to the audiobook version, which is narrated by Steven Pacey (Roy Straightley), who is perfectly serviceable. Bex’s perspective is narrated by Alex Kingston, who played River Song in Doctor Who! She’s fantastic as an audiobook narrator.
I would not say that I necessarily enjoyed this book but I was not as wildly disappointed by it as I was by IN THE WOODS by Tana French. This book gets 3 stars from me. Buy it at this link (affiliate), or look at it on Storygraph here.