Portals add dimension to a book, pun intended. I find it enjoyable to read about the boring world a character leaves to enter into a magical one. Here are four books with secret portals into extraordinary worlds.
1. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has an infamous portal that instantly reminds me of my childhood. The movie did a fantastic job bringing the scene of Lucy in the wardrobe to life; the sense of innocent discovery, and the never-ending coats only to be met with pine needles and snow under her feet. The Pevensie children have just escaped bombs from World War II, so Lucy and her siblings see Narnia as a fairytale. She is brought into a medieval world with evil queens, talking animals, mythical creatures, and a friendly lion.
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2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The rabbit hole in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is another famous portal in literature. I love how the novel doesn’t seem like it will be magical, and the hole could have just been a hole, but suddenly, it was neverending. As she fell she saw bookshelves, pictures, and maps. She even grabbed an empty jar of “orange marmalade” off a shelf as she fell. She enters a fantasy world created by her childhood innocence and Alice herself helps control the chaos. Similar to the world of Narnia, Alice is met with talking and disappearing animals, a hookah-smoking caterpillar, and a Mad Hatter. It is incredibly whimsical, quite different from perhaps a boring life in London in the 1800s.
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3. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The cover of this Coraline novel is specifically frightening which I would usually avoid, but this story is one of my favorites. A young, curious girl climbs through the small door of her new house. Through this portal, she finds a house that looks just like hers but slightly different. In this “Other World” she has an “Other Mother” and an “Other Father”, but the weirdest part is everyone has buttons for eyes.
At first, this “Other World” feels like everything she could have wanted, her parents pay attention to her and she is doted on, but slowly it begins to crumble. In the movie adaptation, the real world and “Other World” are not only different in energies but also in color. The real world is dark, wet, and dreary while the “Other World” is, at first, full of color, life, and warmth.
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4. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is quite the classic with its take on a portal. Dorothy and her dog Toto are caught up in a tornado as it rakes through her Kansas town. Instead of finding the portal or falling in, it takes her and transports her to Oz. I love the way the film represents the difference between Kansas and Oz; similar to Coraline, Kansas is filmed with the absence of color while Oz is bright, with yellows, reds, greens, and blues flooding the screen. In Oz, like in the other magical worlds, she is met with witches, princesses, flying monkeys, and her three new friends; Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and The Cowardly Lion.
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I have always been fascinated by the idea of portals in the regular world; it makes the magical worlds seem that much closer. The thought that a portal could simply be within a wardrobe or down a rabbit hole makes me hopeful that I could come across one myself.