The Ten Thousand Doors of January


Alix E. Harrow


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

January 1, 2020

his is a wonderful novel. I was delighted as I read it. The plot, the writing, the characters - it's all perfect. Is this truly the first novel of Alix E. Harrow? What an outstanding achievement for a first time author. May she write many more!

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is the tale of a young girl named January who lives a life of privilege in the mansion of her benefactor, the wealthy Mr. Locke. Occasionally, January goes on trips with Mr. Locke to exotic locations. The novel is set in the early 20th century, so January's dark complexion marks her as a social pariah, except the power and prestige of Mr. Locke (who is white) shields her. So January has security and tutors, but she doesn't have friends. January's father, Julian, works for Mr. Locke, but he is rarely home - Mr. Locke sends Julian all over the world to find rare artifacts. When Julian makes a discovery, he sends it back to Mr. Locke, who catalogues the object and stores it in his mansion - it seems as if the estate is more of a museum than a residence. January has never known her mother.

Mr. Locke is a member of an Archaeological Society, which sounds benign, but the characters who attend the Society meetings have a distinctly sinister manner. January encounters some of these devious characters and she wonders how Mr. Locke can not see these evil men for what they are.

Isolated and lonely, January does strike up friendship with the son of the grocer, a likely lad named Samuel. Her relationship with Samuel is one of the great threads to January's story - this is mostly an adventure tale with magic and villains most foul - but there is almost sweet romance. January also befriends Jane, an unconventional governess whom Julian has sent back from a far corner of the world. With these allies, January grows up. Hints of magic appear in the book - items appear as if from nowhere, especially a mysterious book titled The Ten Thousand Doors, which is a story within January's story, it tells the romantic tale of a lovestruck young couple who search for each other across alternate universes.

Parallel earth stories can be wonderful if handled right, and Harrow knows just how to write a story that makes alternate earths seem believable and yet also adventurous and exotic. It seems January might have inherited some ability to enter the doors between worlds and learn how truly special she really is.

This book is fantastic. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it!