Thursday, September 5, 2019

Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019
Hardcover. 352 pages

About The Ten Thousand Doors of January:

"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."

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is one of those books that I was entranced by from the moment I saw it so many months ago. The cover, the synopsis, the air of magic the permeated it... everything called out to me. I was so excited to read this book and I'm pleased to say that it turned out to be just as beautiful as I'd hoped, if not more. If you're a lover of stories and ideas and imagination (which, I think it's fair to say that most of us readers are), then this book is for you. This is one of those books where it's obvious that it's been written by a lover of books for lovers of books, while at the same time acts as a love letter to those very books.

The story is told mainly from January's perspective, though the first three-quarters or so also feature excerpts from a book that January finds in the beginning of the story. I was immediately drawn to January's writing style, though I did struggle at first with the second narrative that we get. I can't really put my finger on why, as I thoroughly enjoyed the story the second narrative told, but for those first few chapters I kept finding myself distracted before I was able to become full immersed. However, once I finally did fall into this second narrative, I fell hard.

January is exactly the sort of character that I can't help but fall in love with. She has a difficult time growing up with only her father--who, incidentally, is almost always off traveling around the world--and she doesn't get a chance to really be a kid and feel the constant presence of a loving parent. She has Mr. Locke, her father's boss who takes care of her while he's away and treats her as his ward, but it's still a tenuous relationship at times that undergoes a lot of tribulations throughout as January grows up. She's intelligent and observant and is bursting with potential for greatness, but she spends a lot of her early life being taught to control herself and not to speak out. I loved watching her grow into her personality and discover who she is, as well as how she learns to develop her own voice--and a strong one at that. I actually found it rather inspirational for those of us who have also grown up as the more soft-spoken and passive type by showing how it is possible still to learn to be more confident and to stand up for what we believe in.

What most drew me to this book, however, was of course the doors themselves. The limitless possibility of doors that lead to anywhere and everywhere is one of the most thrilling and awe-inspiring feelings that stories can create and it filled my imagination with so much adventure and excitement. Harrow's creativity truly soars and I loved exploring this world with her characters. My only complaint (if you could even call it that) is that I wish we had gotten to explore more of these doors and seen what worlds lay behind them. Perhaps Harrow will one day write another story in this world?

The idea of escapism is one of the biggest themes of this book and it's one that I think will resonate the most with readers. Many of us read for a variety of different reasons, but I think it's safe to say that almost everyone has picked up a book with the goal or hope to escape into it and forget the troubles of their own lives. This is something that January regularly does and that essentially saves her from her everyday life and that provides such a strong avenue for connection with her. Harrow also tackles some themes relating to race and feeling lost in your own world and skin that I thought were remarkably well done and really stand out as such an important and prominent part of this story.

Lastly, the way in which Harrow deftly weaves together all the different threads and plotlines is truly magical and is the sort of thing that left me--and, I assume, all other readers--perfectly satisfied and a little in awe of how it all came together.

Overall, I've given The Ten Thousand Doors of January five stars! Despite the shaky start that I think was entirely on me, I really grew to love the characters, the magic, and the sheer possibility that acts as a constant presence.

*I received an ARC of The Ten Thousand Doors of January in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the novel.*

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to start this book! I'm in the middle of two books right now but this up next😁