The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

This is one of the most beautiful proses I’ve read in my life, lush, is what they call it. Everything is poetic, melancholic and a few times even tragic but this it’s written in such striking language, it al most made me swoon. Each paragraph more confounding than the previous, the book takes us through the life of January Scaller, a girl whose grows up in absence of parents – with no whereabouts of her mother known (until the middle of the book) and an absent father who travels far and wide to collect artefacts.

January grows up with one of his father’s friend called Mr. Locke, who treats January as his own. He is also the man who’s part of some ancient archaeological society that collects artefacts, and the man January’s father works for.

There’s a lot of themes in here covered as we journey through the eyes of January into the life of Adelaide lee Larson. Backing up a little bit, January one day ends up finding a ‘door’ that leads her to another dimension / world.  She discovers a Door (the ‘D’ in doors are capital here which is kind of obvious due to the title, but also the explanation is offered later in the book) in an empty field that leads to a world by the seaside. Once she is brought back, she is dismissed by Mr. Locke as being ‘too imaginative’ and raises her in complete confinement and a strict regime of boredom and discipline. However, it seems that January, years later, is able to make things happen (like get herself a pet, escape a room, the small little things) merely by writing. The story gets a little dragged out and repetitive in between, and I will not go into the details of it. But, January does seem to be ‘special’ in several ways more than one – her race being the first mentioned in the book. Themes like racism, feminism, coming-of-age, toxic maculinity, opression and ofcourse, love transcending all time and dimensions.

January, on her 17th birthday, finds a book called The Ten Thousand Doors, a story of Yule Ian and Adelaide Larson who met and fell in love after passing from one dimension to another. As January’s posession of this book becomes a topic of concern for Locke and his archaeology society members, they also realise that she knows about the Doors. These are also referred to as a fracture in space and time.

January is later convinced by Locke that her father is dead, and she is deemed mad, confining her to Battleboro, a mental asylum just because she refuses to reveal how she manages to escape locked rooms and knoeledge about the Doors. She escapes Battleboro too, with a lot of physical and mental agony that follows. Hellish creatures such as vampires masquerading as Locke’s friends for all these years chase her through space and time until she wins.

There’s not much of a spoiler here, as the book is about January, and Doors. So she wins. But at what cost?

When Ade Larson began opening Doors, Locke’s society got to know of them and began to close them off, keeping Ade, Yule, and January apart all this time (yes, her parents are alive!). The deux ex machina becomes predicable by this point, as the book is a rather long one. But in the end, the writing, and the author’s love for the art makes it worth it. The book is an ode to the art of writing, as also depicted within the pages that Yule Ian’s world is one where the mere words have the power to alter reality, change it even. This is a power that January does end up possessing, albeit realising it much later.

This is a beautiful book that I may resivit much later it life, or not. There are one too many quotes in there that I have highlighted, some of them being entire paragraphs describing the feeling one gets while simply smelling the pages of a book. The book is an experience in itself. A door that leads to other worlds and realities is something perhaps we all seek at some point in life, and this book is just that respite.

Rating – 4/5

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