The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a beautiful epic adventure brimming with magical realism; but is so much more than this. Full of layers, it is a stark portrayal of the abuses of power and social injustice. It is also a reminder to truly believe in ourselves, the strength of our imagination and the tenacity of the human spirit. On a personal level this reminder really resonated with me and is just one of the reasons why I found The Ten Thousand Doors of January such a spellbinding read.
The novel opens at the birth of the 20th century when order, colonialism and imperialism is under threat. Seven-year-old January Scaller finds a Door, not a ‘common variety door that leads reliably to a white-tiled kitchen or a bedroom closet,’ but a Door that magically leads to a new world, a story that has the power to change January and the world of order and social hierarchy that she is confined to.
When January tells her guardian Mr Locke of the Door, she is accused of ‘fanciful nonsense.’ Mr Locke is chairman of the New England Archaeological Society, a sort of social club for rich, powerful men who were also amateur collectors. He employs January’s father, ‘this odd-colored, scarecrow looking fellow‘ as a field agent, who travels the world gathering unique, valuable objects for Mr Locke’s collection. Although she leads a life of privilege under Mr Locke’s guardianship, January is also part of his collection. Having inherited her father’s skin colour, January asks Mr Locke if she is coloured; he tells her she is a ‘perfectly unique specimen.’
I’ve got to be honest with you, when I first started to read The Ten Thousand Doors of January, I did struggle with it. Full of layers and rich in detail, initially I found it a tad disjointed and confusing at times. Yet I stuck with it, and crikey I’m so pleased I did as my overarching view of this epic novel is that it is unique, beautiful and extremely powerful. Reading this book I often experienced that lovely warm glow in my stomach and had tears in my eyes.
Yes, The Ten Thousand Doors of January is historical fiction and a fantasy novel. Yet in its poignant exploration of class, race and gender, it is a novel that really resonates with the society of today. Through her enchanting narrative, Alix E. Harrow is continually reminding us that ‘Every Story Opens a Door‘; that through our imagination, courage and self-belief, we have the power within us to evoke change, change not stifled by order, change that will enable us to discover new adventures and grow. Personally I found this extremely powerful and have really taken this important message from the novel to heart.
I want to thank Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part in the The Ten Thousand Doors of January blog tour. To read the reviews from my fellow book bloggers also on the blog tour, please see below. However my biggest thank you must go to Alix E. Harrow for writing this epic, beautiful novel which has touched me on so many levels. Thank you!
The Ten Thousand Doors of January was published on 12th September.
Happy reading everyone! 🙂