Book Review of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

374 pages

ISBN: 9780316421997

Published: 9/10/19 by Redhook

Genre: Portal Fantasy

Rating: 3 out of 5.

B&N | Book Depository

*click on photos to view original sources*

“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.”


Doors, he told her, are change, and change is a dangerous necessity. Doors are revolutions and upheavals, uncertainties and mysteries, axis points around which entire worlds can be turned. They are the beginnings and endings of every true story, the passages between that lead to adventures and madness and—here he smiled—even love. Without doors the worlds would grow stagnant, calcified, storyless.

Whew, I actually finished this an entire month later. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much for me except prove to me how much I’m not a fan of portal fantasies. An example of another portal fantasy would be Seanan McGuire’s The Wayward Children Series, which I tend to not enjoy as the novels are published. This one, however, is more whimsical, so I figured I would enjoy it a little more. And I did, but not by a landslide.

› The story itself is very creative and original. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. January finds a book that leads her to other worlds on the other side of doors. It slowly takes you through her discoveries as she reads this book, and they even involve her. I won’t spoil the how and the why. There are a lot of intricacies that I can definitely appreciate. I can tell that a lot of time and thought went into the book.

› However, the writing isn’t balanced. Too much whimsy within long passages. I want even amounts of character development and dialogue, description, and action. There’s not enough description of the worlds that the characters travel to through the doorways. They enter and they’re immediately speaking to another character. There is a brief description of the first door she steps through, but even then it was a short paragraph. I’d say it would make for an even longer book, but there are other parts that could be cut out to make room.

› I wanted to share a line in the novel that actually made me stop for a minute. It’s a quote that I’ll remember for a long time. It’s one of the few lines that I still think of, even though I started this a month ago.

Sometimes I feel there are doors lurking in the creases of every sentence, with periods for knobs and verbs for hinges.

Tell me that’s not a well-crafted sentence. It paints a weird picture in my head of a door. I loved this so much, and I searched the rest of the book for that. Nothing else wowed me like this single line. It’s beautiful. It’s what makes me not want to give up on this author.

› Would I recommend this book? I would recommend it to a certain group of people, but I know it won’t be for everyone. I think if you enjoy portals, the search for family, secrets, and beautiful / whimsical writing, then you’ll probably like this. It just didn’t all mesh together for me.

› I ended up needing the audiobook to get me through this, and I ended up becoming a member of Libro.fm—an audiobook company that supports indie bookstores. I’m obviously not sponsored, but I wanted to give them love and support. When you become a member, you get a 30% discount on the audiobooks, you get a credit each month for the same price as audible, and you can refer friends so they can get a free audiobook. If any of you are interested, here is my referral code lfm215615.

Let me know down in the comments what you thought about this book! If you haven’t read, then is it on your tbr?

“I’ve been a student and a teacher, a farm-worker and a cashier, an ice-cream-scooper and a 9-to-5 office-dweller. I’ve lived in tents and cars, cramped city apartments and lonely cabins, and spent a summer in a really sweet ’79 VW Vanagon. I have library cards in at least five states. Now I’m a full-time writer living in with my husband and two semi-feral kids in Berea, Kentucky. It is, I’m very sure, the best of all possible worlds.”


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