In Neverwhere, the character Door has a magical ability with doors - either opening existing ones without needing a key, or (apparently) creating portals of her own such as when she first finds Richard. It's mentioned a few times that this ability is something to do with her family, and other family members, such as her father Lord Portico, also have door-related names.

Does everyone in Door's family have the same power as her? Or is it only some of them? Or do some of them have other magical abilities instead?


Yes, the whole family has the ability. This is made pretty clear in the book (not so sure about the TV series/radio series/comics).

For example, Portico's "house" consist of a series of rooms spread out all over the world, linked in a way that only a member of his family could go from one to the other. The Marquis comments in astonishment upon this as an excellent security setup, and can't figure out how Croup and Vandemar managed to defeat it (which we never do find out exactly).

Door also mentions casually to Richard that her family has a certain gift with doors.

If I recall correctly, there's also a bit towards the end where the heroes are informed that they can kill Door at need because they still have Door's little brother. Although I believe that turned out to be a lie, the implication is that they have another person able to open doors at need.

I think there is also a bit near the beginning where Door is being chased and tries to calm herself by going through exercises that her father taught her in order to Open.

It's also symbolic with her father having plans to unite London Above and London Below. That he would be the one to open the door to doing so.

I think the Earl also comments at one point about Portico's family all having that funny thing with doors.


It would appear that being an "opener" is restricted to the Portico family.

Door said, patiently, “And the quick way is?”

“No, no. Need to be an opener to use it. Only good for Portico’s family.” He rested a huge hand on her shoulder. Then his hand slid up to her cheek. “Better off staying here with me. Keep an old man warm at night, eh?” He leered at her, and touched her tangle of hair with his old fingers. Hunter took a step toward Door. Door gestured with her hand: No. Not yet.

It's not clear whether the Lady Door has other extant relatives with the same capacity but when she talks about it, she always refers to her family, not just her father.

Door smiled, suddenly; her face seemed to be illuminated. For a moment, her elfin face became beautiful. “Richard,” she said. “My family. We’re openers. It’s our Talent. Look . . .” She reached out a grubby hand, touched the door.

We see her and her brother practicing their 'opening' skills.

She holds it in her hand, feeling the cold metal, feeling the weight of the lock in her hands. Something is bothering her. There is something she has to know. Door learned to open some time after she learned to walk. She remembers her mother holding her tightly, opening a door from Door’s bedroom to the playroom, remembers watching her brother Arch separating linked silver rings, joining them back together.

She tries to open the padlock. She fumbles at it with her fingers, and with her mind. Nothing happens. She throws the padlock down onto the floor and begins to cry. Her father reaches down and picks up the padlock, puts it back into her hand. His long finger brushes away a tear from her cheek.

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    "restricted to the Portico family." What's in a name. A portico is a covered walkway leading towards the entrance of a building. Somewhere in a portico there will always be a door. – Mast Nov 30 '17 at 18:54

To add to the existing answers, all current members of the Portico family at the start of Neverwhere are Openers. The book does not state whether all previous (or future - thanks @Valorum!) members of the family have the ability.

Also per @Valorum's quotes, it is an ability which requires some level of practise to learn, and possibly assistance from others. The book does not state whether people who join the family can be taught or otherwise "given" the ability, nor whether Portico's family are the only Openers. However since Door has a father and mother who are both Openers, we can infer that one of those must be the case (unless the Portico family practise sibling marriage).

Some characters in the book do indeed have more than one "knack". Croup and Vandemar are notable examples - they do not age, do not bleed, and are apparently able to move from place to place without transition (or at least quicker than can be seen). The book does not state whether a "knack" is learnt or innate, and it also does not state whether people with a "knack" are actually human or just choose to look human-ish (as is the case with Islington, of course).

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