Monday, October 14, 2019


Rating: 4/5 stars

Let’s be real, the cover is the first reason I picked this book up. But the synopsis also sounded amazing too, so it’s okay.

We follow January Scaller as a young child when she finds a blue Door in a field and decides to open it. As she grows up, she begins to forget this encounter, until she discovers a book called The Ten Thousand Doors and the magic in her life is revitalized as she begins to read it. This story is a book within a book; we see both January’s story and the story of Adelaide, the girl from the book.

I love the story-within-a-story aspect. I really came to care about both girls and their adventures. And they were different enough that I didn’t get confused at all during the audiobook.

It took me a bit to really get on board with this book, but I fell in love with it the longer I read it. It planted itself in my heart and grew like a seed into a large tree. There wasn’t a single point when I was like, “okay, I’m loving this story now,” but looking back, I gradually enjoyed it more and more the further I got. Especially what January had to say to the reader at the very end of the story, I loved that. The whole thing is beautiful.

At first, I thought this was going to be more of a portal fantasy: January going through various Doors and discovering different lands that lie beyond, but it’s not really like that. It’s much more historical than I originally thought, taking place around the turn of the twentieth century. While I do like historical fiction novels, I honestly haven’t been in the mood to read one for about the last year, so I’m glad I actually ended up enjoying this book. The fantastical element is very soft. Yes, there are Doors that are portals to other worlds, but this is more of a magical realism story than a fantasy, and the Doors are not the forefront of the story even though they are still crucially important to the story.

The book is more about family and friendships and trust and identity and cultural respect and living life as a grand adventure than it specifically is about traveling through Doors to new lands.

This book does a good job of talking about acceptance and race, in my opinion. The characters represent many different races, and it’s talked about what is “normal” for them. This obviously has to do with the time period the book is set in, but I’m mentioning it because it really stood out to me. January, being mixed-race herself, is often looked at suspiciously or treated differently, and it’s interesting to see how she deals with that in a primarily white society, especially in the early 1900s.

Harrow’s writing is beautiful and very lyrical. This is the kind of book that you could hang quotations on your wall from. I loved the way she weaved words together to create beautiful imagery and settings. The writing was definitely my favorite part.

I recently read a book called Eleanor, which was another historical magical realism fantasy that had a similar premise, not involving doors but instead involving time travel/teleportation. I didn’t really care for that book and ended up not finishing it, but The Ten Thousand Doors of January is what I wanted that book to be. It’s the beautiful, engaging, and important story that I wanted.

Although, I have to admit, this book is still not quite what I expected it to be. I thought it was going to be a whimsical and magical adventurous romp through Doors to other worlds, explorations full of carefree fun. Instead, however, the reasons why January and the others were going through the Doors were a lot more solemn and darker than I expected, and those misplaced expectations were what caused me to give this book four instead of five stars. It’s still a beautiful and magical and adventurous book though, and one that I definitely recommend and look forward to rereading in the future.
How fitting, that the most terrifying time in my life should require me to do what I do best: escape into a book.

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