Title: The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Published: September 12th 2019
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: 3 stars
ACCORDING TO JANUARY SCALLER, THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO RUN AWAY FROM YOUR OWN STORY, AND THAT’S TO SNEAK INTO SOMEONE ELSE’S . . .
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 artefacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place.
But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across 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 reveals more impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
‘Doors, he told her, are change, and change is a dangerous necessity. Doors are revolutions and upheavals, uncertainties and mysteries, axis points around which entire worlds can be turned. They are beginnings and endings of every true story, the passages between that lead to adventures and madness and-here he smiled-even love.’
Noted by Hugo Award-Winning author Amal E Mohtar as ‘Unbearably beautiful’, The Ten Thousand Doors of January is the debut novel by part-time historian Alix E. Harrow. A hybrid novel that crosses the genres of history, romance, adventure, magical realism and fantasy, The Ten Thousand Doors of January takes the reader on an unforgettable quest across time and place.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January follows the fantastical life of January Scaller, a young girl who longs to reinvent her own story and immerse herself in another person’s world. When we meet January she is living on a stately mansion, which is populated with lots of unusual trinkets. The man in charge of her destiny, the financially secure Mr Locke, considers January a part of his treasured collection. One day January comes across a book that will change her life forever. It is an odd book that when unlocked, reveals a portal to other vessels, realms, adventures and hazards to negotiate. As January turns the pages of this transformative novel, she invites in a very different existence to her current mode of living. This new reality for January is life changing and revealing.
I have to admit that I was an immediate slave to the cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. I couldn’t wait to get started on this one, the intriguing door and the hooking premise had me mesmerised. I put my all into this book, I desperately wanted to like it, but ultimately it just didn’t capture me, as much as I dearly wanted it to.
There are a number of strengths that form the glue that holds this book together. I found the themes circulating around The Ten Thousand Doors of January important. Harrow competently explores race, class, division, wealth, power, position, oppression, freedom, longing, bravery, adventure, history and literacy, all within the guise of a coming of age style novel. January is an appealing narrator, supported by an intriguing secondary cast. I appreciated January’s point of view, her sense of curiosity and I felt sorry for her predicament. The whole crux of this story, which is centered on the power of the written word, parallel worlds, places of adventure far away from a rather unfair existence, definitely appealed. I was compelled to reach the next chapter to find out what each new door would unlock, which encouraged me to stay with this novel until the close. I also took great value in Harrow’s prose which was descriptive and cathartic, which is impressive for a first time novelist.
On the other side, as a reader who tends to avoid fantasy, sci fi, and magical realism and adventure stories, I think this was the main issue with me and The Ten Thousand Doors of January. I don’t think we were a good match in the end. My mind floated away and I lost the thread of this ambitious novel.
Since closing my own door on The Ten Thousand Doors of January, I investigated a number of other opinions on this book and perhaps I may the minority. Do see for yourself what this book has to offer, especially if you enjoy being transported to other worlds, far away from reality. Books are our escape, and The Ten Thousand Doors of January is definitely a book that offers an unusual literary getaway.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow is published by Hachette Australia. Out now. $32.99
To learn more about the author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow, visit here.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.