The Ten Thousand Doors of January

I was completely enthralled by The Ten Thousand Doors of January (2019) by Alix E. Harrow from very nearly the first page. Set in the late 1800s, January is a teenager cared for by a guardian, Mr. Locke, because her father is always traveling on expeditions for him. His house is filled with wondrous things from all over the world, and sometimes Mr. Locke takes January on trips with him. One day, while away from the house, January finds a door in the middle of a field and things are never the same because some doors lead . . . elsewhere. And January can write things down . . . and then they happen.

One warning, though, January is mixed-race, and some of the author’s descriptions could be viewed as insensitive, although, for the time period it was set, accurate for how January would have been treated in the United States.

January does not know what happened to her mother or how her father came to work for Mr. Locke, and she does not believe her father cares much for her because he’s always away. But then one day he appears with a woman who is to be January’s companion, and January realizes it’s because he doesn’t trust Mr. Locke. January has started to feel the same way, and she has found it harder and harder to behave within the boundaries Locke has set.

If you are too good and too quiet for too long, it will cost you. It will always cost you, in the end.

Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January

After her father is presumed dead, January finds a book he has left for her–it’s the story of how he and January’s mother met, and the Doors, and January can finally have the answers for the questions she’s had her entire life. Unfortunately she may not have much time, as someone is making it harder and harder to find Doors.

Thresholds are dangerous places, neither here nor there, and walking across one is like stepping off the edge of a cliff in the naive faith that you’ll sprout wings halfway down. You can’t hesitate, or doubt.

Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January

It’s a wonderful portal adventure fantasy. The language is beautiful, and I loved the symbolism related to books and stories, and Doors, and even the meaning of January’s name and how it fit into the story. It’s not fast-paced; the author takes her time with the characters and their backstories, and it’s a pleasure to read.

I do not recall any anti-fat bias, so categorize it as weight-neutral.

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