Title/Author: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
In a nutshell (Publisher): In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery 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.
Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.
Verdict: Read it if you enjoy world-building, lush imagery and whimsical storytelling
My thoughts: Proceed with caution as this is an unfavorable, unpopular opinion.
This is a story within a story. A story of a girl named January Scaller, whose father, Julian, was a field agent to a wealthy man who collected artifacts from all over the world. In return, the father’s employer, ‘Mr. William Cornelius Locke , self-made not-quite-billionaire’, ‘chairman of the New England Archaeological Society’, took her under his wing, and hired nursemaids to take care of her.
The story within January’s story is the ten thousand Doors. One day, when January was running away from a busy street, she found a Door in an overgrown hayfield. And stepping into this Door, she was led into another world, which caught her breath and piqued her curiosity. But it all ended for her when Mr Locke, who wasn’t very happy, found her and took her back to their hotel. Life was a bore and a chore until the day she turned 17; the day she found a book titled ‘The Ten Thousand Doors’.
Again, this is an unpopular opinion. Please proceed with caution.
First, what I enjoyed.
I loved the idea behind it – of doors and stories leading you to different worlds and beyond, felt new and refreshing; it appealed to the book lover in me.
January is a great character – adventurous, curious and loves books. We watch her struggle to find her strength and confidence, then grow and mature to a young lady of 17, who, towards the end, became more certain of herself and her powers. (Sin)Bad, her dog, was great company too. It’s hard not to like a protective, loving companion!
And the women portrayed in the novel were strong, determined, resilient dream chasers who didn’t conform to social standards, which I absolutely love.
When the pace picked up, it was good. Kept me turning the pages and thinking to myself, yes! Finally, things are happening!
Besides love and family, the author also explored themes like racism, discrimination, and oppression between the Civil War and the First World War in the worlds that she built.
Now, reasons for the unpopular opinion.
I love lush imagery and description, but I found it overly done, slowing down the pace. I almost gave up half way through, but thankfully the pace picked up. And January’s reflections on being left behind by her dad, feeling lonely and pressured to having to behave around Mr Locke, I felt, a little repetitive.
With a lot of focus on world-building, which is definitely Harrow’s strength, it left its characters much to yearn for.
I found it hard to connect to the characters. I liked January, but not enough to feel attached. Julian and Adelaide didn’t feel fully fleshed out too. Characters are important to me in a novel. This ‘disconnect’ that I felt was kind of a downer for me. And I thought Jane needed a little more back story too. I also wanted to know more about Miss Molly and Solomon from Arcadia, who were such interesting characters!
I really wished I could give this a five star review and that I had enjoyed this book as much as the others. But this was just a so-so read for me. Gorgeous cover though!
That said, Ms Harrow has potential and is a talented writer. I’m excited to see what she has next.
Thank you W&S BookClub for introducing me to this book. I only wished I enjoyed it as much as you did 🙂
Thank you Netgalley and Redhook Books for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Have you read this book? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you intend to? Is fantasy one of your favorite genres? Please share with me your thoughts!
Last but not least, may the power of good books be with you always!