There are books that sneak up on you, teasing you with glimpses of the fantastique, of possibilities within possibilities, shaded with darkness and radiating light. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow is a tale that defies expectation, folds in on itself in a compelling origami, creating shapes and stories and Doors both beautiful and terrible.
I didn’t know what to expect from the book; I had little idea of the plot or the characters or the path the story would take… and that discovery as I turned each page was the best way to step through the Door Alix Harrow opened into January’s world.
My partner, who’s had to put up with me reading to the wee hours while he’s trying to sleep, asked me what it was about. I explained it woefully of course, because words – my words – don’t do it justice. A book within a book within a book, and magic and love and adventure and Doors and self-discovery and self-belief. It breaks the fourth wall and fifth wall… and god, all the walls. It shows the good in people and the evil, the struggle of trying to find your place in the world and of the worlds. It’s knowing you’re different, that you don’t quite fit, that an in-between girl has a foot in each world but stands in none. Defiantly so.
It’s words. Not just words upon the page (although the narrative is divine) but the power of them, the way they twist and turn and shape themselves and those around them and those who gaze upon them.
January Scaller would have the right words, and they would be beautiful. It’s her story… and the story of beginnings and middles and not-quite-ends. Even thinking of it now, I’m smiling. There’s hope, even in the darkest lines of the pages, and that spark lights January’s way… with her ever-faithful dog (I love him).
The Ten Thousand Doors of January goes onto the top shelf of my bookcase, alongside other tales that will stay with me for a very long time, and each time I walk past, I will think of Doors and magical places… and oh the possibilities.
GET THIS BOOK IN YOUR EYES!
Eleventy stars out of five.
(Oh, and a special shout-out for the cover — much pretty, such sigh.)