Book Reviews

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

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

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

The Ten Thousand Doors of January – Book Details

TITLE – The Ten Thousand Doors of January

AUTHOR – Alix E. Harrow

GENREfantasy, historical fiction, magical realism

YEAR PUBLISHED – 2019

PAGE COUNT – 384

MY RATING – 3.5 of 5

RATED ON GOODREADS – 4.08 of 5

Initial Thoughts

Without realizing January is the name of the protagonist of this book, I picked up The Ten Thousand Doors of January thinking it must be a perfect winter read. It turned out – it kind of is, at least if you like this type of stories. It’s just that the January in the title has nothing to do with it.

Another reason why I picked up this book is because I really liked the cover. Which is, granted, one of the stupidest reasons to read anything, but oh well.

About the story itself I knew next to nothing. I just saw that this book is rated over 4 stars on both Goodreads and Amazon, that it has a fair number of reviews and it was a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy and Goodreads choice awards.

Which, again, is not a guarantee that I too will enjoy a book. But I had a really good feeling about this one. Plus, The Ten Thousand Doors of January is tagged as fantasy, historical, adventure and that it has something to do with books, which – say no more, I’m in!

What It Is About

A quote from The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow: “She writes a door of blood and silver. The door opens just for her.”

January Scaller is growing up at Locke House under the protection of Mr. Locke himself. Motherless and with a largely absent father, she often grows tired of people around her who only see her as “a perfectly unique specimen” while expecting her to be “a good girl”.

But, things change one day when January stumbles upon a book that smells of other worlds, distant seas, secret doors and adventure itself. The book tells a story that couldn’t possibly be true… Except that January already has quite an experience with impossible things…

The Ten Thousand Doors of January – My Review

First things first – the writing was very flowery. Which is certainly not my preferred writing style. I am actually a fan of plain ol’ simple non-distracting writing with which the whole focus is on the story.

But I actually ended up really enjoying it this time. Partially because I barely ever read it, so it was a welcome change. And also – I was surprised by how readable this book was.

I did have a bit of a problem to get through the story. But the writing style had nothing to do with it. And it added a lot of charm and whimsy vibes to the book.

I read a few reviews in which people said they found the writing pretentious. But to me it didn’t feel pretentious at all. I found it flowery and beautiful, but very accessible.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is one of those books I appreciate because of how different they are from what I normally read. They bring something new, fresh and exciting to my usual reading.

This book tells a story about other exciting, magical worlds. But also – how magical our world must look to someone unaccustomed to what we consider plain, common everyday things.

However, I did find it a bit difficult to read long chunks of this book at once. I really wish it had much shorter chapters. I think that would make it much more enjoyable and easier to go through.

At least that’s how I see The Ten Thousand Doors of January – like a box of rich, indulging chocolate. Gorgeous, but you don’t eat the whole box at once.

I think I would much more enjoy this book if I read small pieces of it along with reading other books. But, I kept trying to finish at least that one chapter, which was usually humongous, and in the end I’d end up feeling a little – stuffed.

Part of the problem was – this book felt very slow to me. Which was fine. You know. It was a nice change from what I usually read. But, it did make me ask myself once or twice if anything is actually going to happen. Or will she be finding doors just for the sake of finding them.

Also, considering that this is a portal fantasy, we get surprisingly little first-hand traveling to the other worlds.

For a book that talks about traveling in between worlds, the story seemed very uneventful. I needed a stronger plot, a string of events that would pull me into the book and make me wonder what will happen next.

But, in The Ten Thousand Doors of January, the plot seemed chopped up, all over the place and even events that should have been exciting by all accounts didn’t manage to make me feel excited.

That all stories are doors and that worlds are shaped with words… It is a beautiful concept. But for an almost 400 page novel – I felt like it needed a bit more sustainable plot line to drive the story and maybe flesh out the idea a bit better.

This is one of those stupid situations where you’re trying to explain that you really liked a book, but you still struggled with it.

Even though it took me painfully long to get through it, in the end this book did manage to somewhat win me over. It was so very different from what I usually read. So original, whimsical, very emotional and touching at moments. And although I don’t think I could stand more than 2 or 3 of this type of books a year – I’m really glad I read this one.

So, my 3 star rating – definitely very subjective and lowered because of my own personal preferences. It is a great book and I totally see why so many people are giving it 5 stars.

I was even considering giving it a higher rating. But ultimately, I compared this book with the books I gave 4 stars and – I definitely enjoyed those other books more.

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