The Portable Door (Tom Holt)

The Portable Door is the first book in the series featuring J. W. Wells & Co. by Tom Holt. It’s humourous fantasy, a bit like Terry Pratchett (but only a bit).

Paul Carpenter is pretty much what people think of when they hear the word loser. He’s applying for a job as a junior clerk at J. W. Wells & Co. and much to his surprise gets the job, together with Sophie, who he falls in love with, even though she seems to have no attractive trait whatsoever. Anyway, work at J. W. Wells seems to be mind-numbingly boring at first, but it turns out that J. W. Wells is not only what it appears to be at the surface.

The Portable Door was a quick, nice read and had some very nice ideas. While it didn’t make me run to the next bookstore to pick up the rest of the series, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the other books and will continue to read when I happen upon them.



I have the frightening feeling that this will be one of those books that I will have to work for to remember it (which I usually don’t, so I could also say that I’ll forget it rather quickly). This is not necessarily a quality judgement – I really did like the book – but some books just have this quality about them. Like the guy/woman (who I bet exists in every office/class/group of people) who everybody gets along with and you enjoy their company but when they’re not there, you don’t really notice. If you know what I mean.

Anyway, I liked Paul, the main character and I really enjoyed to get introduced to J. W. Wells through his eyes. I didn’t really get what he saw in Sophie, but then I didn’t get what Sophie saw in him, either, so I guess that’s at least equal in its incomprehensibleness.

I liked Holt’s writing style. It was quirky and funny, though not in the laugh out loud way, more in the silent smirking way (and sometimes in the “what? was that a joke three lines back? oh, yes, yes, it was. and a good one, too.” way).

Holt has some good ideas, but sometimes his plot gets a tad too predictable. And there were some plot holes that left me wondering. (Like the old Mr. Wells is the long stapler and he can appear and disappear when and where he wants to – why didn’t he go to the conference room with the mirror that shows his real form at any point in the 140 years he’s been trapped as office equipment?)

So, while I enjoyed it, something was definitely missing. But it might get more special during the rest of the series – I guess, I’ll find out.

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