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.
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.
Title: The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Fantasy
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Hardcover, 384 pages
Publishing Date: September 10th 2019
Publishing House: Redhook
ISBN0316421995 (ISBN13: 9780316421997)
Upon reading the first few pages of The Ten Thousand Doors of January, it is pretty clear that Alix E. Harrow has a way to write most eloquently and organic, a whimsical tale reminiscent of childhoods' past imaginary wonders, curiosities, and secrets. The most beautiful, exquisite passages of words strung together so naturally, they elude to the calm and quiet brilliance within, ever so gently evoking the reader's attention wrapped around in every line, page by page.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January is the coming of age tale of one girl's quest to find her past, present, and future behind doors that act as gateways to find her answers.
"If we address stories as archaeological sites, and dust through their layers with meticulous care, we find at some level there is always a doorway. A dividing point between here and there, us and them, mundane and magical. It is at the moments when the doors open, when things flow between the worlds, that stories happen."
January Scaller is seven years old around the turn of the last century when her story begins in Vermont, New England. Growing up on a large estate in the trust of Mr. Locke, a member of the Archeological Society. While her father is in his employ to gather interesting objects to add to Mr. Locke's collection of trinkets and artifacts, January longs to see her father more often and dreams of the affections of her mother.
Raised by a German housemaid to give her needed structure in the day, she grows up with her studies and a love for reading and scribbling stories. Around the time the fog of adolescence lifts, she is confronted with her differences in social status and skin color, albeit being subjected to lectures in good manners all her years.
"Power, my dear, has a language. It has a geography, a currency, and - I'm sorry - a color. This is not something you may take personally or object to; it is simply a fact of the world, and the sooner you accustom yourself to it, the better."
January hadn't thought of her future much until she finds a leather-bound book written by her father. She discovers a story written in segments about someone's life that will most impact her self worth, her curiosity, and her longing to see her father even more.
When January and an unlikely friend decide to pursue what they have learned of in the leatherbound book, the ranks of the Archeological Society will show their true colors and a sinister truth will come forth.
"Do you want to leave?" I swallowed, tucking my fear away for some future time when I would be strong enough to look directly at it. "Yes," I answered and in answering realized it was true. I wanted wide-open horizons and worn shoes and strange constellations spinning above like midnight riddles. I wanted danger and mystery and adventure. Like my father before me? "Oh, yes."
While January is told that her father has died, she has nothing left but to follow her heart and instinct. And when a sign from her father gives her a strong warning not to trust anyone, she has to make it across worlds through doors to find safety.
A story in a story, beautifully imagined. An adventure of a different kind, most uniquely crafted and precious in details.
To read this novel was a breath of fresh air. I fell for the writing style and prose immediately. It's the kind of book I haven't read in a long time but that brought me back to happy times and places, where long summer days, running in fields, reading outside and childhood play was the most important thing in my life.
While one travels in the book within a book, Harrow makes use of events in time and societal differences as reference points to imbue further a feel for its present and change, or the lack thereof. Exploring different worlds and ethnic backgrounds behind the doors and lives of others, it adds different views with an emphasis on family ties, strength, and love.
Towards the latter middle of the book, the novel loses its tranquil tone, trading it for the action and deception that follows and crescents in turmoil to solve the mystery of the leatherbound book and January's race against time. Preferably, I could have continued reading more whimsical passages, but the scope and ideas were intriguing and became decisively textured more sharply.
A special book you cannot go wrong with reading or gifting. So, add some lovely magic to your book diet and enjoy the world of Ten Thousand Doors...
I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you and thank you to the publisher.