Today is the release day for the gorgeous The Ten Thousand Doors of January, and I’m still mulling over how best to put into words the utter heartfelt beauty of this wonderful book…
Book: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow
Read before: No
Ownership: Proof copy sent free of charge via publisher. All opinions my own.
Where to begin, honestly? This book is the story of January Scaller, a girl who has grown up in an enormous house filled with peculiar curios, and with a father who is often away, collecting those curios from all over the world for their benefactor, Mr Locke. January isn’t happy – she’s treated like just another exhibit – and when she discovers a mysterious book, and learns about the existence of magical doors to other worlds, it changes everything she thought she knew about her life.
January is a wonderful character – a thinker, a worrier, and a dreamer who is utterly relatable. She reminded me a bit of Cassandra from I Capture the Castle, with her determination and spirit (though the books couldn’t have less in common!). Her journey to discover her past and find her father is so well-described that it tugs at your heartstrings, and I found myself overwhelmed with emotion at several moments – not crying from sadness, but just from the sheer reality of the emotional journey described. Even when the book splits away from January’s perspective, to show the contents of the book she discovers as its own story, that emotional connection is maintained to perfection, and you feel wholly invested in every step, whether through a door or not.
The real spotlight here should go to Alix E Harrow’s incredible writing, which has what I call a ‘treacle’ quality – slow, and smooth, and utterly engrossing. You end up dragged into total focus on the book, no matter what else is on your mind, by the rich and gorgeous language and the beautiful unfolding of every sentence. When I say slow, I don’t mean that there’s a lack of pace, at all, just a measured, elegant flow that sweeps you along. It’s lush and vivid and velvety without ever being purple or overblown. The whole reading experience feels like a dream you don’t ever want to wake up from.
I don’t want to spoil a single thing about this book, because I feel like the less you know going in, the more you will get from watching things unfold, but this is what I can tell you. It’s a story of family, and finding yourself, and how the tiniest discovery can change everything. It’s got adventure, and contemplation, and the giddy feeling of going too high on a swing and feeling like you could sail into the sky and never come down. It will break your heart into tiny pieces and then glue every piece back together with gold. It’s about trusting yourself, and seeing the magic in the world, and how certain people can become that magic in your world. It’s the book the word ‘wonder’ was invented for. It’s a book you could read thirty times and find something new on every journey through. It’s magical. It’s perfect.
Please go and read it immediately.
Ten out of five cats.