"This book is made to order, but it isn't to be read;
When they open up this book, they're sucked inside instead!"
We've all heard the metaphor that books are a gateway to other worlds. Sometimes, this stops being a metaphor and becomes the literal truth
. A book is an ideal object to turn into a Cool Gate
to a Magical Land
. Portal Books usually come in one of three varieties:
- As a literary version of Trapped in TV Land: The characters rapidly move from book to book, with the shelf or the library functioning as the Portal Network, creating a chain of shout outs and parodies of well-known genres and/or famous works along the way. Most of the books visited will be The Theme Park Version of public domain classics.
- As a literary version of Portal Picture: One book functions as a portal into the world of the story told in its pages. You usually can't escape until you reach the end of the story. This one is far less likely to be a real book in "our world."
- As a literary version of Set Right What Once Went Wrong or Wayback Trip: Characters get Applied Phlebotinum that allows them to enter the setting of one or more previously completely mundane, non-magical books. The conflict often centers on how their interference threatens to screw up the plot, and they have to get the original story back on track to resolve the "right" way.
Any of these three may or may not overlap with Refugee from TV Land
, when literary characters come through a Portal Book into "the real world
." The best candidates for such reverse travel are villains.
Chances are 10 to 1 that there will be An Aesop about the value of reading
. Nobody is more likely to fall into a Portal Book than a video game or TV junkie who thinks books are boring. A Bookworm
's best hope of getting to experience this trope is if the Aesop is "Be Careful What You Wish For
," and he must learn to stop withdrawing into the fantasy world of his books and "live in the real world." (Of course, either
lesson runs the risk of being a Space Whale Aesop
, given that books in the real world don't work like this.)note
For help finding a Portal Book near you, see your local Magic Librarian
. Compare Portal Door
, for doors that lead someplace non-adjacent.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Fushigi Yuugi - Miaka and Yui fall into the Book of the Four Gods, and their adventures can be read by anyone who picks up the book in the real world.
This is the story of a girl who gathered the seven seishi of Suzaku, and acquired the power to make every wish come true. The story itself is an incantation. Whoever finishes the book shall recieve this power. As soon as the page is turned, the story will become truth and begin...
- In Soul Eater, Noah/ Fake Eibon enjoys doing this.
- The Inkworld Trilogy
- The NeverEnding Story
- The Angel novel Book of the Dead had a variant of type two, where Wesley was sucked into a book and trapped in its pages-he to help the other trapped people and defeat the people-eating worm demon hunting everyone before he could escape.
- There's a kids' series called Alice in Bibleland that centers on this premise.
- The Land Of Stories: The Wishing Spell (and presumably the other books in the LOS series) by Chris Colfer focus on two kids who enter a magical land through a book.
- The Pirate movie Magic Island has a boy named Jack get sucked into his book. He ends up saving a mermaid and some treasure from Blackbeard the pirate.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Rita and Zedd trap three of the Rangers in Kimberly's favorite childhood book. When that plan backfires, they turn the book's villain into the Monster of the Week.
- Done with Alex's diary in an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place.
- Done twice on Are You Afraid of the Dark??:
- A microwave oven turns a comic book into a Portal Book in "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner." It ends with the hero going inside said comic book to stop the Emotion Eater villain that had escaped earlier in the episode.
- A video game junkie learns how (dangerously) exciting reading can be in "The Tale of the Bookish Baby-sitter."
- Done in the Charmed episode "Charmed Noir," where Paige and Kyle get trapped in a book written by two of the Magic School's students.
- In Tales of the Arabian Nights, the Arabian Nights serves as one of these; the player must enter seven of the Tales and retrieve a magic jewel from each one in order to confront the evil genie of the game.
- SCP Foundation, SCP-826 ("Draws You into the Book"). SCP-826 is two bookends. When a book is placed between them, the room it's in will change into the setting of the book. Anyone who enters the room will enter a random location in the book's setting. Any actions the explorer takes will be reflected in the book after they leave it.
- Most episodes of Gumby involve this.
- Adventures of the Week on Muppet Babies frequently took the kids into books, including Around the World in 80 Days, Peter Pan, "The Pied Piper of Hamelin", and numerous Fairy Tales. Interestingly, the episode specifically about books and libraries didn't use this but rather put the kids in the setting of Labyrinth searching for Piggy's lost Alice in Wonderland book.
- The trope-naming Great Big Book of Everything on Stanley.
- The Challenge of the Super Friends cartoon in 1978 had episode 13, "Fairy Tale Of Doom", where the Toyman develops a device that can project anyone into the pages of a storybook. He forces Hawkman to chase him into Jack and the Beanstalk, Cheetah forces Wonder Woman to chase her into Alice in Wonderland and Brainiac forces Superman to chase him into Gulliver's Travels and the three villains trap the three Super Friends in the three treacherous fairy tales. The other Super Friends must rescue the trapped heroes before the clock runs out and the books vanish forever.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode, "Power Ponies" has Spike and the Main Six learn the hard way that this kind of book is apparently a freely available specialized comic book retail item when they are sucked into it and have to play out its roleplaying game scenario in order to leave.
- The Incredible Umbrella and its sequel The Amorous Umbrella by Marvin Kaye.
- Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next is all about this. For example, Thursday traps Jack Schitt in a copy of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" in the first book.
- In Woody Allen's "The Kugelmass Episode" Persky the Great invented a cabinet that can transport the occupant into whatever book is placed inside when he taps on the door three times. The titular character uses it to cheat on his wife with Madame Bovary. It eventually breaks when he tries to get sent into Portnoy's Complaint and he ends up in an old Spanish textbook being chased by an irregular verb.
Role Playing Games
- To link books together in Myst, the world has to be described in its pages (in an archaic, chinese-like form of D'ni), but once completed, the books on the shelf act similar to a Portal Network.
- The whole premise of the Myst game is this trope. Initially type 2 but with the return averted. The main story/adventure is slowly revealed by the puzzles you solve and this part is more like a type 1.
- There was a Wishbone's Amazing Odyssey computer game that used this.
- Fiction Fixers: Alice in Wonderland and its sequel Fiction Fixers: The Curse of Oz are about reversing changes in the books caused by an agent of the Illiterati.
- In the Nevertales series Travelers can use any book as a portal into another world.
- In the '80s, the German RPG Das schwarze Auge (Realms of Arkania) had a franchise for kids, called Der Geheimbund des Schwarzen Auges. In this game, you were a Guardian at 'The Library', and whenever there is something in a book that went wrong - e.g. Huckleberry Finn got lost in the cave, Long John Silver has staged another coup on Treasure island or whatever - the Guardians enter the book and its story to set it back on track.