The Ten Thousand Doors of January
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.
Author: Alix E. Harrow | Publisher: Redhook
Rating: 4.5 / 5
“This one smelled unlike any book I’d ever held. Cinnamon and coal smoke, catacombs and loam. Damp seaside evenings and sweat-slick noontimes beneath palm fronds. It smelled as if it had been in the mail for longer than any one parcel could be, circling the world for years and accumulating layers of smells like a tramp wearing too many clothes.
It smelled like adventure itself had been harvested in the wild, distilled to a fine wine, and splashed across each page.
But I’m stumbling ahead of myself. Stories are supposed to be told in order, with beginnings and middles and ends. I’m no scholar, but I know that much.”
I got an advanced reader’s copy of this book from the publisher at BookCon — and wow, am I happy that I did! The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a delightful, whimsical, magical story and a beautiful debut novel to have emerged from Alix Harrow’s heart.
The story is told by January, our main character, speaking directly to the reader (addressing the reader as “you,” including many quirky and informal asides, etc.). At the beginning her tale in the very early 1900s, she’s a young girl. Her father is employed by a wealthy man named Mr. Locke to travel the world and find archaeological treasures. That man also acts as January’s guardian, as she and her father live at his estate in Vermont.
But then January finds her first Door (note the capital D, as January would have you do) — a Door to another world that she seemingly wrote into existence. But Mr. Locke convinces her that she’s being childish and she reluctantly (almost) puts it out of her mind — until ten years later when, as a young lady, she finds a copy of The Ten Thousand Doors in a mysterious trunk. And then the adventure begins — an adventure filled with monsters disguised as men, a mysterious and tragic love story, secret societies, and evil intentions.
It took a couple of chapters to relax into the whimsy and informality of January’s narration, but by the end, I was absolutely in love with all of the characters and so invested in their outcomes and happiness. The story paced well — not too fast, not too slow — and there were a couple of well-placed twists.
I can’t emphasize enough how much I loved Alix Harrow’s writing. It was so gosh darn magical. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw that I couldn’t stop taking photos of certain passages and sharing them on my stories. Also, there are some truly delightful footnotes in The Ten Thousand Doors that made me laugh out loud more than once.
This isn’t a book for you if you like epic fantasy novels with big battle scenes. But it is for you if you just love magic. If you root for the underdog and believe in the power of stories and love and friendship.
This book will be published in the US on September 10th.
“It’s a profoundly strange feeling, to stumble across someone whose desires are shaped so closely to your own, like reaching toward your reflection in a mirror and finding warm flesh under your fingertips. If you should ever be lucky enough to find that magical, fearful symmetry, I hope you’re brave enough to grab it with both hands and not let go.”