The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harlow – Book Review

Hello Humans! I think, if you’re anywhere on book twitter, you’ll probably have seen this beautiful cover floating around – the stunning florals, as well as the captivating title, really grabbed me and so I was very excited when I had the opportunity to read an early copy of The Ten Thousand Doors of January. I’ve been on a bit of a portal fantasy kick lately and thought this book sounded like an interesting take on the genre.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Goodreads Summary:

In the early 1900s, a young woman searches for her place in the world after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

“A gorgeous, aching love letter to stories, storytellers and the doors they lead us through…absolutely enchanting.” —Christina Henry, national bestselling author of Lost Boys and Alice

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.

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This book is absolutely beautiful. It has the kind of poetic writing that feels very flowery and introspective – I do think you have to be in the right mood to read it. I wouldn’t suggest this if someone were looking for a quick read to blast through of an afternoon – though the book itself isn’t very long – it’s something to be savoured and to be pondered on. Sometimes I find this kind of writing difficult because I read so quickly, especially when I’m doing reading challenges, and I don’t like having to slow myself down to get to grips with someone’s writing. This isn’t the most flowery book, however, and there are faster moments interspersed to stop it having that ‘is this just a poem’ feeling that some books get. I think the writing style is probably the strongest and most distinctive aspect of this book so if you’re looking for gorgeous prose I’d definitely recommend picking it up.

I found the plot a little confusing to start with, partly because I was expecting January to start going through doors – where actually she spends a lot of the book staying where she is. Perhaps that was a side-effect of me having recently finished the Wayward Children series where the general consensus is ‘you see a door you go through it and you don’t come back’. That being said, there is more exploring, both real and introspective, in the book than I might have thought there was.

Introspective is probably one of the keywords I would use to describe this book. It’s not exactly an adventure story but more of a slow burn, ponderous story. I don’t always love that kind of book but in this case, I think it works because January is such a strong character that I didn’t mind some of her more ‘thoughtful’ passages because they were balanced out by her being epic and rule-breaking in other ways. There is a lot more action towards the end of the book though so don’t worry if that’s your jam.

There’s also a dog, which is almost always a surefire win for me (unless the dog is used as a metaphor for grief in which case I refuse to read on). This dog is called Sinbad (Bad for short) which was extra special for me as my Mum’s dog when she was a child was called Sinbad too! If you are also a dog lover I would recommend this as having a good representation of loyal pet dogs (something I’ve been reading a lot of lately too…maybe it’s a sign).

I thought this book was beautiful, it’s a palette cleanser for anyone who feels like their fantasy has become devoid of meaning. It takes the idea of the magical doorways we all want to fall through and it spreads them across generations, it reminds us that sometimes we can’t go through a doorway right now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we never can.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January publishes September 12th!

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

What say you? Will you be reading this? Let me know some of your favourite portal fantasy books in the comments below!


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