The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Maturity Level: 3+
Content Warnings: asylums, self-harm, harm to animals
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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.
It seems like I’ve read a lot of books about Doors in the past few years, but The Ten Thousand Doors of January has definitely been my favorite.
The stand-out element in this book for me is the writing. It felt so charming and whimsical. I especially loved the segments from January’s book, and those were my favorite part of the novel. The style is very interesting, where January often talks to the reader and references the fact that she is writing. I loved that. I also adored the descriptions of the other worlds, which perhaps weren’t quite as vivid as I remember them, but I was so caught up in the writing that my imagination filled in everything.
This concept was an interesting (if not particularly fresh) take on Doors and passages to other worlds. I enjoyed how it allowed for and even explained many of our own folk tales and fairy stories. I felt like that really grounded the story in reality and made it feel more possible that it could be real.
I will say that this is a slower book. There isn’t a lot of dialogue, just lots of exposition and descriptions. In other words, perfect for me. But, I get it, maybe not perfect for everyone. If you like the way The Night Circus was written, I think you’ll enjoy this.
However, I enjoyed the first half a lot more than the second half. As things started to get more plot-y, it became increasingly apparent to me that the characters didn’t have much depth, and that January in particular is frustratingly naive and slow on the uptake. I’m kind of over this thing where authors tell us that their female protagonists are spunky, clever, or brave, but them when push comes to shove they turn into meek, docile things who won’t believe what’s right in front of their eyes. I also saw all of the major twists coming within the first hundred pages or so.
So yes, I really enjoyed this book, will probably read again, will definitely look out for more from Harrow. But it fell just shy of a 5-star read for me.