The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow


Rate: 5/5


Medium: Audiobook


Overview (No Spoilers):

In November I picked up The Once and Future Witches based on the positively glowing review of a friend. Harrow’s writing style and story telling absolutely blew me away, easily making this read on of my favorites of 2020. When I saw The Ten Thousand Doors of January on the author, Eliot Peper’s top reads of 2020 I immediately added the title to my TBR, especially with how much I’d enjoyed my first novel by Harrow. The Ten Thousand Doors of January was Harrow’s debut novel in 2019 and after reading this stunning story I was in no way surprised to learn it had been nominated for a Hugo Award.

I listened to The Ten Thousand Doors of January through audiobook, and was easily hooked after only a few pages. The writing style was eloquent and filled with vivid imagery that was reminiscent of Morgenstern’s The Night Circus or The Starless Sea. Interestingly, Harrow relied on the sense of smell more than any author I can recall to create her literary word, but her descriptions induced clear recollections for the reader due to their own olfaction induced memories. The writing was such that I felt like the story could be subpar and I still would have not wanted the novel to end. Thankfully, the story itself was equally captivating, somehow toeing the line effortlessly between whimsical and dark.

Harrow has developed a strong but flawed female character who we follow throughout much of the book with breaks where we are treated to a book within a book. January, our young protagonist can make the reader want to pull out their hair at various intervals, with her perceived immaturity and sheltered upbringing being the initial scapegoat behind her behavior. That said, without any giving away any spoilers, her intuition turns out to be stronger than the preconceived motivations attributed by the reader.

The story itself, while containing a significant amount of magic that grew more apparent the further into the novel one adventures, easily taps into the imagination of the reader as Harrow provides an explanation for all the mystery and the unknown that takes place throughout the world from mythology to missing persons. Moreover, despite the story itself being complex, there’s a side story simultaneously unveiling itself that will cause the reader to revisit earlier chapters with new found insights. Overall, The Ten Thousand Doors of January is easily one of my favorite reads thus far in 2021 and is my current go to book recommendation. Harrow’s eloquent writing style and meticulously crafted literary world will have the reader looking twice at every door they pass.


Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • One of the interesting points that January pondered is what makes a villain? Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes good intentions can be warped, but at what point will that individual be a villian? Perhaps, the answer is not as black and white as often perceived.
  • What were Locke’s actually feeling toward January? Did he view her as a daughter?
  • How many people of the New England Archeological Society were from other worlds?
  • How did Mr. Havemeyer find January in Brattleboro? Did Locke know that he had tracked her down?
  • Did anyone ever find Ilvane behind the locked door? Why didn’t January demand the gold feather from him?
  • January’s impulsiveness drove me crazy some times. When in front of Ilvane she dramatically collapsed despite the danger when finding out what he’s done to her father. Or when she continues into the field where Locke was waiting for her. Why not wait for him to leave? He couldn’t have been sure that’s where she would go.
  • How different would have Ade or Julian’s life had been if Ade had not bragged to Locke about the door? Also, did she travel back to see her Great Aunt?
  • Did Jane ever find home?

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