The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow

Like many other young girls in fiction, January Scaller has been kept under wraps for most of her life. She’s been taught to be a good, obedient girl by her guardian, Mr. Locke. But unlike many of those young girls, January discovers that she has the power to rescue herself. In The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alex E. Harrow, January (and us) are taken on a wild, dangerous ride through not just the United States but also through worlds that are on the other side of the doors January finds here and there.

January has struggled to be a good girl all her life. She would rather be wandering in the woods of Vermont or reading—or just not having to tame her hair, dress up in frills, and attend Mr. Locke’s society balls. Her only friends are Samuel, the grocer’s boy; her dog, Bad (Sindbad); and Jane, a woman sent by her father to protect her. In spite of these friends, by the time she reaches her mid-teens, January has managed to at least pretend to be a good, little girl in public but she feels increasingly constricted by all of Mr. Locke’s rules. It’s then that Jane realizes two things. First, she finds a book called The Ten Thousand Doors that has some very interesting things to say about her lost mother, father, and what Mr. Locke is really up to. Second, she decides to put into practice her untested ability to change things by writing them down. January is not going to be like so many other girls in stories. After a harrowing scene, she bolts at last.

I love the idea of there being doors, waiting to be stumbled upon, that can whisk us away to different worlds with magic and strange creatures. This is why I love Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series. In January’s universe, however, she doesn’t have to wait for the right door. She can be an explorer. She just has to figure out how to get away from Mr. Locke and his creatures first, and stop their attempt to close every door they can find. If January can’t stop them, no only will she be killed, our world might lose something irreplaceable: a large part of its folklore in the form of yetis, boo hags, oceans at the top of mountains, and more.

I don’t know if Harrow is planning more adventures for January, Bad, Samuel, and Jane. Like January, I want to know more about the other worlds that are out there. The Ten Thousand Doors of January was such a lush, imaginative story that I inhaled it all in one day. I want more travel and magic and adventure with these characters, who take no crap from anyone and who have a knack for rescuing themselves.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.


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