“The Ten Thousand Doors of January is devastatingly good, a sharp, delicate nested tale of worlds within worlds, stories within stories, and the realm-cracking power of words.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
A supremely impressive and accomplished debut, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow is magical in every sense of the word. Initially I was drawn to the book by that gorgeous cover, it is so striking and beautiful, and having read the book, it is perfectly suited to the story being told. That story is a magical coming of age tale, and our heroine is the titular January Scaller.
In the early 1900’s January is growing up as the ward of the wealthy Mr Locke, a man who lives for his collection of the rare and unusual, and at times she feels more like another object in his collection rather than someone of worth in her own right. Her mother died long ago, and her father spends most of his time hunting down rare artifacts for Mr Locke, leading to January feeling alone and abandoned.
One day she finds a strange book, one that draws her in to the story of a woman by the name of Adelaide who finds a mysterious doorway into another world ,and from there goes on a quest that will lead to danger, adventure, love and heartbreak. As January becomes more engrossed in the story she finds that the only danger may not be between the covers, and as she discovers just how closely her life is entwined with the story within the blue book she cherishes, she embarks on a quest as dangerous and adventurous as any she could have imagined.
Books about portals to distant worlds are always fascinating, and this is no different, The author has done an incredible job of creating a story filled with magic and wonder, with more than a hint of danger and intrigue. The historical setting works well, and added an extra dimension of interest to the story, particularly given January’s heritage and experience as a person of colour.
Aside from January, there is a wonderful cast of supporting characters, my favourite being Jane, the acerbic Amazonian protector sent by January’s father , whose history is revealed in some of the more dramatic passages of the book. The writing in this book is simply glorious, there are so many passages that I found myself highlighting on my Kindle , her turn of phrase is incredibly polished.
This is clearly a book written by someone who loves words and reading, and that love shines through in so many places.
Added 16th October 2019