Today’s review is on The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January follows January Scaller who is an odd young woman who is the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke. She feels like one of the many artifacts that are apart of his collection. One day she discovers a strange book that has her name on it that tells the story of strange worlds and the doors between that exist. However, as she reads to book she discover more about her family and who she is and that Mr. Locke might not be who he seems to be.
I’ll be honest, I went into this without reading much of the synopsis because I wanted to be surprised and it ended up being different from what I had expected, but I loved it!
The title might not make sense at first, butt he more things come together the more they make sense. This book is not necessarily the story of a young woman who journeys to different lands, rather it is about a young woman who discovers that such doors exist and that she herself hails from a different world accessed by one of these doors. She also discovers that her guardian might know more than he lets on and there is a mysterious society that seems more sinister than they appear. To guide her, January discovers a book that was left for her called The Ten Thousand Doors, a treatise on the existence of these doorways to other worlds.
I loved the book within a book and that readers get to read The Ten Thousand Doors along with January, it was fascinating to learn what she was learning as she reads the book – it even included footnotes. I loved the themes of exploration, otherness, and belonging. It also explores the fear of chaos and being confronted by what we don’t know. It also gives a warning about corruption and absolute power ad control over the world, as well as those who are suspicious of that which is different.
January was a great character and I loved watching her journey unfold as she learns more about who she is, where she comes from and about the doors. It is interesting to watch her attitudes toward Mr. Locke, especially when he proves to be the villain. I also enjoyed getting to know Jane and her story, and Bad the dog.
Mr. Locke is an interesting character because he appears to care for her even though he treats her and shows her off like she is some artifact. He at first seems to care for her as a daughter, however it soon becomes apparent that he views her as an artifact, and/or a savage to be tamed by a “proper upbringing”. When she bucks against what he wishes her to be he decides to send her to an asylum. He also reminded me sometimes of Senator Palpatine in Star Wars Episodes II and III.
There were also several quotes that I really liked while I was reading the book:
“It’s a profoundly strange feeling to stumble across someone whose desires are shaped so closely to your own, like reaching toward your reflection in a mirror and finding warm flesh under your fingertips.” (p.91)
“‘Oh, my dear, don’t believe everything you read in the story papers. You people are always trying to invent reasons for things. Monsters only come for bad children, for loose women, for impious men. The truth is that the powerful come for the weak, whenever and wherever they like. Always have, always will.'” (p.161).
“I wonder sometimes how much evil is permitted to run unchecked simply because it would be rude to interrupt it.” (p.326).
The Ten Thousand Doors of January was really great, but I can also see why someone might not like it because it is flowery writing and very atmospheric. I wish we could get more of January’s story, especially after the end of this novel, but I also want this to stay a stand-alone. I am looking forward to reading more from Alix E. Harrow’s work. 4.5/5 Stars
Janelle L. C.