The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Written by Alix E. Harrow
Review by J. Lynn Else

There are doors, and then there are Doors. Notice the distinctive capital D “like a black archway leading into white nothing.” In 1901, January Scaller found her first Door when she was seven, a dividing point between the mundane and the magical. Her tale of a faraway land is dismissed by the man caring for her, Mr. Locke. However, the discovery of a strange book years later about hidden Doors and a romance that stretches beyond multiple worlds lead January on a fantastic adventure. What is her mysterious connection to these worlds, and at seventeen years old, can she finally find the thing she’s been missing in her life—her family?

Within a few sentences I was hooked. January’s voice is compelling and distinct. Words are artfully threaded into the narration’s rich tapestry in both their use and form, particularly when capitalized. Characters are diverse but trapped in a time that doesn’t value differences. January, herself, is an oddity looking for a place to belong. January’s yearning for meaningful relationships drives her, and her growth flourishes as she discovers more about herself and her family. This story possesses elements of coming of age, adventure, mystery, magic, and a little romance; though, as observed by January, “every story is a love story if you catch it at the right moment, slantwise in the light of dusk.” Harrow’s prose will enchant you from page one, and her worlds kept me enraptured.

“If we address stories as archeological sites… we find at some level there is always a doorway.” I highly recommend you step over the threshold and get lost in this book.