I adored The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. It’s a beautifully written, magical, and often heart-breaking story that captivated me from start to finish. Plus, the pacing is just right in that it doesn’t speed the story along, but it also doesn’t hold everything back while it goes through hundreds of pages of fluff.
I didn’t actually read this book, I listened to it after using one of my credits on Audible. I always have to be a bit picky with audiobooks as the narrator can have a voice that I just can’t get along with. So, my tip here is to always listen to the sample on Audible first, that way you instantly know if it’s a voice that’s going to grate on you or not. Thankfully, The Ten Thousand Doors of January is brilliantly performed by January LaVoy (I see what you did there!) who manages to make all the different characters sound unique.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January tells the story of January Scaller, a young girl who lives a mostly closeted life in the care of the wealthy Mr. Locke. Her father is never around, as he’s off doing the bidding of Mr. Locke by collecting unique artefacts from around the world, artefacts that don’t actually belong in our world. Without getting into spoiler territory, January’s world eventually expands when she begins to learn about her father’s past, the existence of thousands of other worlds, as well as the means to access these worlds through various doors.
One thing I loved is the intriguing text within a text approach where January is both telling the story from the POV of her future self, as well as interspersing the text with chapters from the book within a book (which features the same name as the book you’re reading: The Ten Thousand Doors of January). Through these you’ll learn about how January came to end up at Mr. Locke’s and just how special a girl she really is.
I do wish there had been some more exploring of other worlds, although one of the worlds, The Written, is described in such detail that I’d love to live there. Harrow has crafted an absorbing world that I want to delve into again and again, so hopefully she’ll return to it in the future (on Goodreads Harrow has said that ‘there’s room for further adventures’ in response to a question).
I’m sure there would be plenty more I want to say about this book and it’s themes, but I neglected to make notes as I listened and I’m finding it hard to delve deeper when I have nothing to refer to (I don’t want to read other reviews, as that will just colour my opinion). I also think listening to it on Audible can mean you miss chunks as your mind wanders, although in this case I listened to the majority of it while I was washing dishes every night and that monotonous task did help me soak more of the novel in. Besides, this is supposed to be a short review, so I don’t want to go on forever. This is also the first ‘proper’ book review I’ve written in years.
To sum up, this is an imaginative and wonderful book. I’m a real sucker for stories that feature mysterious or parallel worlds that butt up against our own (I’m also reading The Long Earth series that has a similar setting) that may just turn out to be my favourite book of 2021, and it’s only February!
Please note: Links to products on Amazon generate a commission that helps pay the costs for hosting this website. These links have a ‘*’ next to them. Find out more in my disclaimer.