Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Published September 10th 2019

Author: Alix E. Harrow

In the early 1900s, a young woman searches for her place in the world 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 my first standalone for Alix Harrow as I have previously enjoyed the Fractured Fables duology. This novel was chosen for me from my book club, and I borrowed my copy from my sister who greatly enjoyed the story.

The novel follows January Scaller who does not know fully where she belongs. She never really knew her mother and her father is always travelling the world, so she is left with her benefactor and her father’s employer, Mr. W.C. Locke. One day she finds a mysterious book, The Ten Thousand Doors and the reader follows January as she discovers new worlds and secrets. The novel opens with her as a child and continues her adventure unlocking the mystery of the Doors into her late teens.

There are essentially two stories in and out of the books, so this novel is great for readers, like me, who enjoy stories about books within books. Representation of people of color and of different classes are on the page as January is a girl with copper skin and raised by white people. These themes are weaved together in a YA style manner where there are a few tropes that are placed throughout the story. For me, there are a few tropes, such as the romance and chosen one, where I wish these were a little more in the background and not as obvious. As the language is more atmospheric and filled with prose, it sometimes gave a mixed impression of the style.

As the writing and pacing are a little slower, for me, this is the type of novel where I need to be in the mood to read it. While it worked during this reading, I am not sure I would have felt the same if I read it again in a different mood. The concept is amazing and imaginative, but it is predictable on what the ending will hold; however, the journey and the introduction of new characters does keep the reader guessing. Alix Harrow definitely has a unique writing style and I continue to enjoy it. I look forward to continuing to try more in the future!

4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

  1. I read this one back during Read your Horoscope and it definitely worked for me. I thought it was quite imaginative, but I agree, a different mood, maybe not. Great review Etta.


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