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

The Ten Thousand Doors of January releases tomorrow!!

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow

Rating:  ★★★★1/2

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this. I was a little bit skeptical because I don’t always have the best track record with YA.  I do think the title is a little misleading.  I originally thought the blurb was misleading too, but looking back I see it’s pretty accurate.  However, if you are going into this expecting a portal fantasy and a girl who travels to a bunch of different fantasy lands… that’s not this book.  It doesn’t need to be that book.  It’s great as it is.

The beginning is fairly slow and requires a lot of patience.  As I said above, if you’re like me, and expecting January to find a door and begin adventuring.. it doesn’t happen for a very long time.  Initially, this is a lot of backstory, building the character of our protagonist and those around her, setting up little dominoes so Harrow can knock them all down brilliantly in the end.

However, once we finally reach the part where we start reading The Ten Thousand Doors (maybe starting at the second chapter) I was sucked into the story and could not put it down. In the middle of the book, this secondary story became compelling much more quickly than the first story, and at times I was frustrated with the direction January’s story was taking.  By the time we reach the end of The Ten Thousand Doors (the book within the book) I was completely hooked by January and Bad, and cared a lot about her as a fictional character.

You’ll likely see the twist coming from a mile away (I did) but that somehow didn’t make that twist any less perfect. It felt like it was where the story needed to go. Beyond that, there were plenty more surprises in store to keep the reader guessing and turning the page.

This is still a grand story, cleverly told.   Each little point in time, each character, has a neat little pin placed in it, no one and nothing forgotten. This book gave me something I feel like I’ve been missing all year, and that is closure. I don’t have any questions, I know what happened to all the characters. The ending is perfect.

The writing in this story beautiful, lyrical, magical. The tone can be very grim at times. January’s race (which is not white, at a time when persons of color in the US and elsewhere were widely unwelcome, to put it mildly) plays an important part in the story, and she is reminded of it constantly. Aside from her race, there are characters in the story who use and abuse her (mentally, verbally, and physically on occasion). To them, she is not a person, she is very much a thing.  It’s heartbreaking and at times I just wanted to scream at the page.  Thank goodness for Jane.

Even though the reader is only given glimpses of other worlds, worlds with leopard people and worlds filled with monsters, I loved how the magic was incorporated into the story. I think this particular magic will appeal to anyone who reads.  Adding to that, there are little trinkets from different worlds incorporated throughout the book, all with their own unique abilities and their parts to play.  It’s this level of detail in the book, the way items are mentioned and forgotten and pulled back in, purposes revealed that I loved so much.

I highly recommend this book to readers of any age.  Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC for review.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January releases tomorrow, September 10! So add it to your GoodReads TBR or head on over to Amazon to check it out!

24 thoughts on “Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

  1. Nice review! I have an eARC of this and started it. However, I found it slow and was disappointed that it was not a portal fantasy that immediately, well, portals, so I set it aside. You’ve cleared up my expectations and I think I’ll start over with this in mind. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s still a slow beginning- but I think once you dig into the meat of Adelaide’s story it will grow on you.. as long as you aren’t expecting a world hopping portal fantasy. It’s great if you can appreciate it as it is!

      Like

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