Book Review: A Narrow Door – Joanne Harris

Book Review: A Narrow Door – Joanne Harris

Release Date:
4th August 2021
Publisher: Orion Books
Pages: 448
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars


Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…

You can’t keep a good woman down.


A Narrow Door is the brand new novel by acclaimed author Joanne Harris. A return to the world of St Oswald’s the story follows Rebecca Buckfast – the first female headteacher of the school. She’s determined to take down the old regime and she’s doing it by allowing female students for the first time in the school’s history. As plans are made to create new state of the art facilities on the premises, human remains are uncovered in the construction work. As Rebecca works to protect everything she has built, secrets that have long stayed buried will soon be revealed.

Joanne Harris is one of my favourite authors so as soon as I heard about this I was incredibly excited to pick it up. Harris weaves a complex and exhilarating story, one that hooked me from the very first chapter. A Narrow Door is well crafted and I loved the prickling sense of unease that continued to build and build as the story progressed. Joanne Harris has such a beautiful writing style and the excellent descriptions of the hallowed halls of St Oswald’s and King Henry’s really came to life. The story was well-paced and I ended up reading the second half of the book in a single afternoon. There were some surprising moments that I definitely didn’t expect and while this is the third book set around St Oswald’s, it can absolutely be read as a standalone.

The thing that fascinated me most was the complex and multi-layered characters that Harris has created. Rebecca Price is a fascinating character and I really enjoyed reading the story of her life. She is a determined and ambitious woman and will do anything to succeed in the man’s world she finds herself in. She made for a really compelling protagonist, even more so as the story grew darker. A Narrow Door is an incredibly gripping and clever read, one you absolutely won’t want to put down.

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