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

I just came back from a vacation in a familiar magical city, Goa, and luckily, this book was the only thing that saved me from having a full blown post vacation blues 🙂

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Reading this on the beach was the perfect setting, because I could imagine myself in the city of Nin! 🙂

The book blurb from Goodreads says:

EVERY STORY OPENS A DOOR

In a sprawling mansion filled with exotic treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. As each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, January discovers a story that might just be the key to unlocking the secrets of her past.

Trigger warnings: Personally, I didn’t think there was anything trigger worthy, but  maybe there could be some trigger warnings with respect to abandonment and maybe a bit of animal violence

So, is this a love story? An adult fantasy or a book about survival and love mixed with elements of magical realism? Maybe you can box the book into one of these categories, or maybe all of these categories, or maybe none of them. I couldn’t figure out if the story was about love, or about traveling or about transcending boundaries, all sorts of boundaries – maybe it was a mix of all of these elements. But who cares about categorising, as long as you enjoyed the journey?

There are two love stories mentioned in the book – one adult and one teenage, the adult one narrated by an adult and the teenage one narrated by our protagonist January, but I felt that the love story was a very small part of the overall plot. It is very clean and whatever is written is mostly from the perspective of how love can help us find our true selves or transcend hardships and difficulty, instead of the ‘falling in love’ part. I found it quite refreshing to read a story which was not majorly centred around a love story between two leading characters. If I had to pick my favourite couple in this book though, I would hands down pick the relationship between January and her dog and her side kick – Bad. Their scenes were my favourite scenes in the book 🙂

The part about the Doors opening up passage ways to other worlds seemed similar to another book I had recently read, Exit West, with the difference being that the Doors in this book were more magical with fantasy elements of worlds which were completely different from our world, whereas in Exit West, the Doors opened passage ways to a destination within our World itself.

I felt that the mood of the story was dark, with a sense of helplessness and despair through most of the book, with a few snippets of joy in between. There is a lot of struggle, lot of loss and pain, abandonment, and some violence against my favourite side kick, Sindbad or Bad the dog, in the story, but the message in the book is about survival, about strength, about believing in your happy ending and finding it. So it ends on a very satisfying and positive note.

I liked how the author included certain historical details and facts in the beginning of the book and associated them to disturbances caused by movement through these Doors – that was quite clever and ingenious. Her writing is quite beautiful – poetry like in some places where she describes a certain World, and factual in other places, when she describes a hardship related routine, or a travel map for one of the protagonists.

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I had to add the actual cover pic in the blog, because how pretty is that!! 🙂

I did feel towards the middle that the story was moving along a little slowly and nothing good was happening, but then it picks up really well towards the end and I was very happy with the way the story ends, for all the characters in the book.

So, all in all, I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it if you’re looking to read a historical fantasy about magical doors, but a story that doesn’t have too much action or too much romance and is more about letting go of boundaries and restraints to find your happiness and where you belong 🙂

 

 

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