In Ms Thorley’s novel, Catherine is sent hurling from one time period to the other, all of this starting on her sixth birthday, when she tampers with her father’s time machine and somehow gets it to work. Left behind is a devastated father, while little Catherine plummets back to the late 15th century.
The premise as such is interesting, and Ms Thorley follows not only Catherine’s adventures but also the determined attempts by her father over 20 years to somehow find her and bring her back home. However, I felt these present-day (or future day) passages could have been developed further; as it is, they are too short and thereby disrupt rather than add to the narrative.
In general, I felt the various historical settings had been glossed over—with the exception of the Edwardian period. The medieval period in particular is clichéd, and I find it extremely unlikely that a 15th-century tailor would educate his foster daughter so that she becomes fluent in Latin, Greek and French. Also, it remains a mystery to me why Catherine repeatedly falls through time. I suspect it has to do with her father’s desperate experiments, but that is never made sufficiently clear to the reader.
Hidden Doorways is in many ways a classic time traveller romance. The main character, Catherine, is quite engaging but for this reader the story as such does not quite deliver to expectations—mainly due to the sketchy historical settings.