Name: The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Number of Pages: 385 (ebook)
Published: September 10th 2019 by Redhook
In the early 1900s, a young woman searches for her place in the world after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
From the earliest moments of this book, as January narrates her initial discovery of Doors and the worlds beyond them, and her love of books and stories, I had a feeling I was on to something special.
I was pulled in right away. When the mystery developed further as January’s father disappeared and it became apparent that someone or something was also interested in Doors, and more specifically closing them, cutting off access to all these magical places, I could hardly tear myself away and had to read on.
As January herself notes, it starts with a Door, but it also starts with a book, the mysterious Ten Thousand Doors, a volume that almost magically appears in January’s life from some unknown source and paints a vivid, consuming tale of other worlds, mysterious Doors, and two people who literally crossed worlds for true love. It’s a real slow burning tale for the spirited Adelaide Lee Larson and scholarly Yule Ian, and January takes every opportunity to escape into their tale when her own real life situation becomes increasingly difficult, little realising at first just how important their story will be.
The writing is something to savour. I found myself going back to reread passages at times, just for the way something was expressed with such imagination, or for the imagery created. It gave me slight Starless Sea vibes at times, another book I really enjoyed. From the stifling atmosphere of the vast museum-like Locke House on the shores of the lake to the confines of Brattleboro and out into the vivid and varied worlds that can be found beyond the Doors, including the world of the Written, the home of Yule Ian, all these places were so vivid and provided some great settings.
Now to talk of the characters. January is the heart of the story of course, and she’s an interesting character, setting out to find her family and somewhere to belong having had such a unique upbringing with Mr. Locke as her guardian and fleeting visits from her own father, whom she always hoped would return one day to announce that she could go travelling with him.
The characters surrounding January all add something to this tale, be it for better or worse.
One of my favourites was Jane, a woman who initially arrives in January’s life when she is employed by January’s father to act as a companion, but there’s far more to Jane, and her history and personal interest in the Doors was one of the highlights of this story. I wish Jane had her own book of stories.
And there’s a dog called Bad, who is far from that. As animal companions go, Bad is very good.
The villains of the piece are provided for the most part by various members of the mysterious Society. Havemeyer starts out as a vaguely creepy gentleman before becoming something altogether more nightmarish, and there are others of his ilk who are interested in the Doors and the worlds to which they lead.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a tale of magic and imagination, stories and books and the power of words. It’s all about friendship, family, finding somewhere to belong, and the lengths people will go to find each other when the odds are stacked against them. I loved the time I spent reading this, and am already looking forward to reading The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. I can’t wait to see if it’s as good as Ten Thousand Doors. What a start to a new year of reading!