Have I thought about stumbling upon a door to a different world more times than once? YES! That is what this book will do to you. It will make you dream of fictional worlds and not just Hogwarts, but every kind of world you have ever wanted to be a part of. I have felt involved and lost (in a good way), and my kinship with January Scaller runs deeper than any other character I have stumbled upon (at least in the recent past). This bundle of gorgeousness and magic lives up to the hype.
January Scallar, an odd colored girl is being raised by her benefactor Mr. Locke, a collector of antique objects and member of an Archeological society with hidden agendas and powerful secrets. Her father is employed by Mr. Locke in exchange for money and lodgings, his job is to travel to far off lands and collect expensive and one-of-a-kind objects for his boss. As a child, January found a door that opened to the land of seas but the door was promptly burnt down by her benefactor. Years later, she finds a book titled ‘The Ten Thousand Doors’, a journal of sorts that talks about these mysterious doors that connect different and diverse worlds, an escape of sorts but each door with a story to tell.
As January finds out more about these doors and their location, one outburst at the wrong place sends her to a mental asylum. The goal is to keep her away from all the information she isn’t supposed to know. But January soon learns that she is the child of two people inhabiting different worlds. Their story is beautiful and painful at the same time.
It takes a while to understand the concept of the book, even with an elaborate blurb. But as it starts making sense, it feels like a giant puzzle being solved inside your head. The author writes two stories, one within the other and each of them is full of adventure and dangers of its own. There are very few characters in this story and that is why I felt more involved. The protagonist and the antagonist emerge through their own story and it all converges at the end.
‘The Ten Thousand Doors of January’ is not an action-packed story. There are no battle scenes or strange magic being crafted, neither is the protagonist ‘the chosen one’. She is an ordinary girl, a reader like you and me who stumbles upon a secret and decides to reunite with her family by setting things right and facing the demons (not literally) she has been kept safe from. There are a lot of ‘reader’ references that filled my heart with joy. As readers we consider books to be an escape of sorts and the author combines this idea with the presence of actual doors waiting to be opened and newer worlds waiting to be explored.
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Blurb (as on Goodreads):
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.
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.
Then she finds 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 turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.
*Thank you Orbit Books for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own*