For a child growing increasingly inquisitive about the world he or she inhabits, every new doorway and uncharted space is too tempting to resist – and even more so if it is hidden and locked. From walking through wardrobes into fantasy lands of mythical beasts to zapping zombie sentinels in video-game quests, magical portals have whipped up young imaginations for generations – and those memories stay with us as adults.
Author Frances Hodgson Burnett tapped into this idea more than 100 years ago, when she published her classic children’s novel The Secret Garden. It tells the story of Mary – a spoilt, incalcitrant young orphan raised in India – who is sent to live in her uncle’s Yorkshire mansion. Thrust into a home marred by death and illness, she finds solace in a forgotten, overgrown garden where a tangle of family truths unravels from a mass of creeping vines,