Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

If the beautiful cover art of this novel doesn't grab you, the story inside will certainly do the trick. I've had my ins and outs with this novel, but I've finally finished it, and it was worth the struggle. 

I know, and yet I do it probably every month: spend weeks reading a book that I really should read in a matter of days. Taking too long to read a novel ensures my interest will wane, even if it's a wonderful story. That's what happened with Ten Thousand Doors. Yet somehow, a Thanksgiving miracle happened at the last moment and turned it all around. 

I've been pecking at this novel since early November. I'd read glowing reviews, blurbs, and of course saw the cover, so I was prepared to be wowed from the get go and not be able to put it down. 

I was wrong-partly. I got about 100 pages in, and was stuck. Knowing it was my last book to read and review this month was weighing on me, and I knew I had to dive in and finish it. I dove back in the other night, and got a little farther. Okay, it was growing on me. Then last night, I had the chance to just lay on my couch and read for a few hours. So I did, but those few hours had me reading until after 11 PM, when I reluctantly put it down because my eyes were bugging out! I had a chance to read again today, on a gloomy Tuesday when I wasn't feeling so hot and was needing some distraction from a nagging headache. 

I'm happy to say I finished it today, and it was superbly written. Wow, Alix Harrow is a master storyteller, and this is one imaginative story. January Scaller is a young teenager, living with her guardian, Mr. Locke, in a mansion in Vermont filled with museum quality pieces from around the world. The man responsible for collecting those pieces is January's father, Julian. He travels the world, and January doesn't see him very much. She's awful alone, and her skin-tone--a dusky red/brown, ensures she's only treated kindly because she's under the care of Mr. Locke. She's pretty secluded, and all she wants to do is be with her father on her travels. 

One day, January finds a strange little book tucked away in a special spot. That book is the gateway to January's grandest adventures, full of dangers, death, far away worlds, and men who will stop at nothing to grab January and keep her under lock and key. January, you see, is unlike most other teenage girls. She's got some serious gifts, and as she reads the journal, she slowly begins to understand her yearning for other places and adventures. She begins to find her way home. 

I'm woefully inadequate telling you the plot of this book, but I don't want to give anything away. I did have a bit of trouble understanding what was going on and why this journal was plopped down in the middle of the story, but oh, after spending some time diving into the story, it all became clear. It's a story within a story for sure, just like there are doors within doors, and worlds within worlds. 

I thought of my sad attempt at NaNoWriMo this month (I happily stopped writing after 10 days and no inspiration), and was blown away by the talent Alix Harrow has for crafting such an imaginative and outstanding novel. Pure magic. I was reading in bed last night, and I actually stopped and said out loud "A ha! This is where it kicks into high gear!"

I'd gift this book to any YA readers; folks who like fantasy, or adventure novels; people who enjoy a well crafted story. It would make, in the best hands, an amazing movie. I don't want a sequel--this novel finishes as it should, and I'm content. 

Rating: 6/6 for an inventive, magical, outstanding novel about stories, worlds, families, love, and healing. Finding your place. Embracing your gifts. I highly recommend this novel!

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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