“It is at the moments when the doors open, when things flow between the worlds, that stories happen.”
Synopsis: 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.
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Oh. My. Goodness. I have fallen absolutely in-love with The Ten Thousand Doors of January and Harrow’s writing style! This book actually was the novel selected for The Uniquely Bookish’s October 2019 Box, which is how I ended up with this beauty! At first, I was rather hesitant to read it … the hype was so high and I didn’t want to be disappointed. Thankfully, Alex @ The Paperback Piano graciously decided to buddy read it with me!
For those who love words and the exploration of unknown worlds, this is DEFINITELY a novel I would recommend. From the very first page, Harrow captured me with her impeccable writing … she’s definitely grown as one of my top authors for 2019 (I finished this December 2019, hence why I didn’t say 2020 ha-ha).
To view Alex’s review, please visit her website!
This is a spoiler free review. Anything already discussed about the plot has been mentioned in the synopsis.
↠ Pro 1. Harrow’s novel encompasses a unique blend of genres and narrative elements, catering to a larger reading audience. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a historical fantasy, drawing readers in through the enticing elements of both magic and the exploration of the early 1900’s. There’s something very fitting about placing these two genres together. Elements, such as the lack of technology to disprove “nonsensical concepts” that comes from the fantasy element, makes the concept of magical Doors and multiple worlds seem more REAL rather than FICTITIOUS, even though the primary setting’s set in our “non-magical” world. Harrow also has an incredible gift to engage a number of different reader types, as she focuses a balanced amount of detail on character development, story progression, setting exploration and an emphasis on the language use … something I haven’t seen done well in a novel for quite some time.
↠ Pro 2. The novel has a lovable main character and is littered with a number of memorable side characters. January, our main heroine, grows from being a polite and well-mannered young adult to the rebellious adventurer that we grow to love and care for. Though she’s fierce and courageous, she also demonstrates a fearful and anxious side, making her character so much more relatable (and realistic, in my opinion) during the course of the story. Though there are a number of horrendous individuals who will stop at nothing to find January, she’s also blessed with a number of great companions: Samuel, her lifelong friend and comrade Samuel; Sinbad (also known as Bad), her trustful and loyal canine companion who’s always at her side; and Jane, her nursemaid turned guardian who shows how women are just as strong and fierce as men.
But even the villainous characters are interesting, with all their hidden secrets and identities! Even though you kinda hate them for what they put January through, you want to learn more about them!
↠ Pro 3. Harrow maintains a relatively accurate portrayal of the time period, addressing social issues at the same time. All my worries have been cleared regarding the accuracy of the time period! From the clothing attire to even the seating arrangement on public transports based on colour/sex/class, Harrow displays a great level of knowledge and detail regarding the setting and social norms that embody the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Without overpowering the main plot regarding magical Doors and exploration, Harrow also uses this as an opportunity to discuss the ridiculous social stigmas and prejudices faced by a number of different groups in society, such as racial discrimination (especially interracial) and sexism. Interestingly, the exploration of the NEW worlds show societies where women are the warriors and where there’s no racism or sexist slurs.
↠ Pro 4. A story about the power of words, this book’s a story for lovers of literature. The writing of this book is just … incredible. As a lover of words and poetry, I was captivated by Harrow’s ability to engage my attention SIMPLY by the word choices she makes. It FEELS as though every word choice was selected specially, with every sentence being beautifully and carefully crafted to help perfect January’s story. The whole plot revolves around the importance of stories and words, how our world (or worlds, even) is built upon storytelling and myths and fables — how the words we choose to say have VERY important meanings and powerful messages behind them, so we should carefully watch what we choose to say and believe.
↠ Woe 1. Some of the flashback chapters weren’t as interesting and engaging. The Ten Thousand Doors of January has a number of timelines, a story within a story within a story; the narration’s from January’s point of view as she writes HER own story about the discovery of Doors and magic. In this story, January (and the readers) learns much of this from a book called The Ten Thousand Doors, which flashbacks a couple of decades prior and tells the tale of two explorers and how Doors first became discovered.
For the most part, these “flashback” chapters are quite interesting. But there are certain time where I just got rather … bored. There was too much unnecessary information regarding some of the characters in those parts that I just didn’t really see the point in having to learn about, making me want to go back to January’s story faster.
↠ Woe 2. Whether this is deliberate or not, there are a number of “secrets” that were PRETTY obvious from the gecko. Luckily, I did not see the MAIN ending surprise twist coming whatsoever (thank gosh)! However, there are quite a number of revelation moments that I believe are SUPPOSED to be this big shock factor … but weren’t. And this is coming from someone who tends to be pretty oblivious with story progression moments.
Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a carefully crafted and magically written historical fantasy, showing the beauty of childlike wonderment and the importance of expanding ones imagination … proving that we’re never too old for grand adventures and storytelling. But it’s also a story about self-empowerment, learning the value of oneself and discovering your own wants and desires in life, without the influence of all those who tell you that you “can’t” or “shouldn’t”. Language oriented readers? I believe this will VERY MUCH be your cup of tea.
I recommend this novel if you enjoy:
↠ Multiple points of view; a story within a story
↠ Character development and exploration
↠ Women empowerment
↠ Magic and multiple worlds
↠ Emphasis on language use
Have you read Alix E. Harrows’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January?