The Door by the Staircase

(Disney 2016)

Just when twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can’t stand her orphanage for another night, the mysterious Madame Z adopts her. But when Mary begins to explore Madame Z’s strange hometown with the help of her new friend, Jacob, she learns a terrifying secret about her new guardian.


  • A Junior Library Guild Selection
  • A New York Public Library Best Book for Kids and Teens
  • An Oregon Battle of the Books 2017-18 Reading List Selection

“A delightful mash-up of stories and traditions; imagine Little Orphan Annie crossed with Russian folklore, plunked down in the spiritualist community of Lily Dale, NY, with a dash of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away on top.”

School Library Journal, Starred Review

“Well-drawn characters, an original setting, and a satisfying resolution are the ingredients that make this carefully crafted middle-grade adventure a highly rewarding read.”

Kirkus Review, Starred Review

“This book is a splendid mix of traditional Russian folkloric details, magical adventure, and hints of historical fiction. The subtlety with which the clues are laid out may mean that readers don’t figure out anything before Mary herself does.”

—BCCB, Starred Review

“Engaging characters and a suspenseful plot combine for a thoroughly satisfying read…. This atmospheric book should find a wide audience.”


“Plucky Mary is a heroine to root for…Figures from Russian folklore pop up throughout (the Firebird, a rusalka, a domovoi), and Baba Yaga’s flying mortar and pestle leads to a memorable, magical picnic in the sky.”

—The Horn Book

“In Ms. Marsh’s engaging, almost cinematic story, a tragic fire has left 12-year-old Mary Hayes trapped in an orphanage…. Thank goodness Mary is an unusually brave and resourceful child, for as the folkloric elements multiply and the paranormal dangers mount, she will have to draw on all her capacities to save herself and the ones she has come to love.”

The Wall Street Journal

“The suspense in this magical, adventure-filled story gets started right away and doesn’t let go.”

—Robert Beatty, New York Times bestselling author of Serafina and the Black Cloak