The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Alix E. Harrow
EVERY STORY OPENS A DOOR
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 artifacts 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.
January Scaller lives in Vermont with her ward, Mr Locke, a wealthy collector who finances her father’s travels to distant parts of the world in exchange for the strange and rare artefacts he finds and sends back. But while he is perpetually searching for the next addition to his employer’s collection, January is searching for something of her own. The books she consumes, the adventures and magic of other worlds, any worlds so long as they aren’t her own, provide much needed escape. She is surrounded by things her father finds and scavenges, rare curiosities in every room, strange and mystifying, everywhere her eyes land, evidence of his life without her. When he visits, their time is brief, and soon he departs, intent on the next thing and January is once more condemned to silence and loneliness.
Mr Locke is kind to her, fair, he lets her accompany him on business and social trips. She has seen something of the world, or a small part of it at least. But these glimpses, although exciting at first, confirm that niggle of worry, confirm that she is different from other people. Outside her small circle, people stare, snigger, treat her as if she is nothing because she is mixed-race, because she is different from them. But when January stumbles across a strange book, the story inside will open up the world – many worlds – all for her. She will finally shrug off the loneliness that has cloaked her for so many years and find the answers, the freedom, the sense of belonging she seeks.
This book highlights the intrinsic thirst for stories we all possess, in some shape or form. It’s also an ode to the power of words, a letter of love and appreciation to stories and all the discovery, mystery, magic and capacity to inspire that they encompass. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a captivating and nuanced tale with vivid, tantalising imagery and such beautiful, poetic prose. It’s about stories, magic, possibility, freedom, sacrifice and love. January Scaller is brave and courageous. She’s fierce and loyal and one of the most wonderful characters I ever met. I loved following her journey. This book was a real dream from start to finish.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January had me looking at doors out and about and wishing, for a moment, that they did actually lead to other worlds. I’m an adventurer at heart and I’d happily step through. Having said that, this book, the way it snatched me up, felt as if it was a door of its own, an exquisite story, a fascinating world and this was one door, one world, I never would have left. A stunning book. Please read it!
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About the Author
Alix E. Harrow is a part-time history adjunct and full-time reader, with stories published in Shimmer and Strange Horizons. In her spare time she writes, gardens, herds pets, and works on her gloriously dilapidated house. She lives in Berea, Kentucky with her husband and son.
With thanks to Nazia and Orbit for my ARC, which I received in exchange for an honest review