The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Let’s talk fantasy. I can’t read it all the time, but when an interesting one comes along, I’m game. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow is such a book.
In a nutshell: Told in the first person by a young girl who is raised in a Vermont mansion by the older, wealthy man for whom her father works, January Scaller has no idea whether her mother is alive or dead, what her father actually does, or why the man who calls her his ward collects seemingly ancient relics to share with an oddly evil group of friends.
When she finds a book hidden away in the attic, January reads what turns out to be her own story. In addition to telling who her parents really are, the book describes a large network of doors, strewn all over the world, leading to different times and places. Someone is trying to seal them off. When her father goes missing, January feels an increasingly personal connection with these doors and a compulsion to keep them open.
There is a story, actually a story within a story. Both are fast-paced, suspenseful, and well-written, with beautiful descriptions and minimal repetition.
The characters are eminently likable, from January to her dog Bad (Sinbad), to her friend and savior Samuel, to Jane, the mysteriously exotic companion her father has sent her.
This book is meaty. No quick read, the plot is rich and full. You can sink your teeth into this one.
The concept of doors is one I’ve read about in two other notable books – Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, and Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea. This one holds its own.
The plot moves back and forth between places and times. This may be a problem for some readers.
I found The Ten Thousand Doors of January well worth the effort. It is engrossing and ultimately rewarding.