Chaima ✨ شيماء 's Reviews > The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2019-releases, fiction, historical, arc, fantasy, lgbtqia-rep, read-in-2019, favorites

I almost didn’t write this review.

I felt that to speak of this book would be to contain what it did to me, to diminish it somehow. And I didn’t want to do that. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is almost less a novel than an experience: never have I felt more like I was part of things, moved by the same current, like my soul had disconnected from my body and drifted among fictional souls in a mist somewhere between fantasy and reality.

It seemed hardly credible when I finished reading that I couldn’t follow the words back to a world where this wasn’t mere fiction. Of course the sensible part of me informed me, patiently, that none of it had any more bearing on real life than a dream, yet in the surreal fuzziness of the night, I felt—on a bone-deep, irrational, completely unshakable level—the possibility that I might turn a key, open a door and unlock the mysteries of the world. Even the morning’s clarity couldn’t snatch that away.

You see—to read The Ten Thousand Doors of January is to fill your whole life with it. Those minutes—hours—that my gaze was connected to the page, were the only moments in my day that I felt anything at all. Which is why I feel that to share this account, or give anything away, would do a disservice to a reader just coming to this novel, but suffice it to say this:

It all started, as great tales often do, with a book. The rush of turning a page and a story beginning.

But that isn’t the true beginning of this story. Perhaps it is more apt to say that it all started with a Door. (Really, though. Semantics.)

January Scaller grew up uneasily lodged with the immensely wealthy Cornelius Locke, her childhood a half-painted picture without her father in it while he disappeared for days, months, to buy off with Locke’s gold coins—more often, plunder—marvels and oddities that emerged every day from rumors and fables carried by travelers across oceans and deserts to fire the imaginations of rich folk around the world. For years, January was as molten glass in Locke’s hands, to be spun into the (dutiful, docile, un-temerarious) shape he liked, and with the pall of every goodbye, what once used to be fluent between January and her father soon became incomprehensible, and far more difficult to translate. Now consumed by a sense of dreary imprisonment within Locke’s sprawling mansion and suffering an undimmed longing for an absentee father, January’s spirit grew feeble, as though some river within herself had long since dried.

Until one day, January Scaller stumbles upon a book, and she is suddenly lost and found and wandering, all at once.

Following the threads of history through its tangle, January reads about locked Doors that opened at your knock if you put enough faith into the turn of your key, about young girls who wished for surprises around each road’s turning and yearned for adventure with a hard, physical longing, like a craving for air underwater, and young boys who could never really step back from brinks no matter how perilous was the drop and whom the world almost no longer held a place (or a Door, for that matter) to hide from. Stories that made January feel that the world went on so much further than she could see, and carried with them the faint scent of—if not freedom, then the coiled charge of its possibility.

When one enters a door, one must be brave enough to see the other side.

Like a lighthouse at sea drawing us to safety, The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a tonic for anyone who feels the world is too much sometimes.

Harrow has written a jewel of a novel that grips readers from the opening sentence, and the author’s gifts as a writer are unmistakable, as keen as an unsheathed blade. She delivers a pleasurably devoured piece of prose, but placed within a novel about people who all have a whiff of the unwanted silently hovering about them, and a forlorn wish for belonging lodged within them, finding each other across worlds guided by nothing but the small, sickly faith they keep between them, she creates a story saturated with so much yearning and ache.

And even more than the plot, the characters, the astoundingly unique turns of phrase, and the skill with which the author brings the intersecting storylines to a resounding ending that was both healing and fraught with pain, what I loved most about this book—and what I will remember most ardently about it—is the way the author succeeds in giving the desperate earnestness of her storytelling the quality of a memory, so that her words ring as resonantly as aged wood. And although I knew none of it was real, I also knew it wasn’t not real, and the two knowings drunkenly chased circles in my mind, dizzying me. And therein, I think, lies the book’s biggest triumph: in its ability to convince and compel, to conjure up the indescribable—the unfathomable—through language, to make you believe. To show you a door and hand you a key and invite you to embrace the thrilling and sickening lurch of the drop.

So, if you ever wondered how it would feel to stand on the threshold of a living dream, I promise this book is your key.

My long years of research have taught me that all stories, even the meanest folktales, matter. They are artifacts and palimpsests, riddles and histories. They are the red threads that we may follow out of the labyrinth. It is my hope that this story is your thread, and at the end of it you find a door.


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Reading Progress

May 11, 2019 – Shelved
July 29, 2019 – Started Reading
July 30, 2019 –
47.0% "“He consumed books as if they were as necessary to his health as bread and water, but they were rarely the books he had been assigned.”

“It occurred to me that I’d packed at least nine or ten books, but not a single pair of spare socks.”


tag yourself. I’m both"
July 30, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-34 of 34 (34 new)

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message 1: by Aoife (last edited Jun 14, 2019 06:27AM) (new)

Aoife I was nosying on edelweiss or netgalley, I don't use either as I don't understand them (#technophobe) and prob wouldn't qualify for books anyway as I am useless at writing coherent reviews - but this story 100% jumped out at me!
Love me a period piece and then toss in some magic and I'm sold!


message 2: by Mary-Faith (new) - added it

Mary-Faith Oh my gosh NEED


Chaima ✨ شيماء Aoife wrote: "I was nosying on edelweiss or netgalley, I don't use either as I don't understand them (#technophobe) and prob wouldn't qualify for books anyway as I am useless at writing coherent reviews - but th..."

same! it's available on edelweiss, I requested it so fingers crossed!


Chaima ✨ شيماء Mary-Faith wrote: "Oh my gosh NEED"

IT SOUNDS SO GOOD!!!


Becca | Pages & Postcards Have you read the excerpt?? http://www.orbitbooks.net/shelf-ten-t...

I already had my eyes on this book and then I read the excerpt and now I NEEEEED IT!


Chaima ✨ شيماء Becca | Pages & Postcards wrote: "Have you read the excerpt?? http://www.orbitbooks.net/shelf-ten-t...

I already had my eyes on this book and then I read the excerpt and now I NEEEEED IT!"


AAA I haven't until now!! THANK YOU SO MUCH


message 7: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah Me too!!!


message 8: by Chaima ✨ شيماء (last edited Jul 12, 2019 04:51AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chaima ✨ شيماء Sarah wrote: "Me too!!!"

the early reviews make it sound SO GOOD AND I HAVE A MIGHTY NEED


Chaima ✨ شيماء Ebony wrote: "It's that cover 😍!!!"

it's gorgeous!


Veronika Iris I'm so looking forward to your review!


message 11: by Aoife (last edited Jul 29, 2019 05:09AM) (new)

Aoife More important or more interesting...these don't always align the way we'd typically like sadly

I hope you can get some of the things you need to do done, but I also hope you get to get lost in a book for a bit too - balance ma chérie 😍


message 12: by Manal (new) - added it

Manal I also want to read this book asap! Looking forward to your review!! 💜


message 13: by Heather-Lin (new) - added it

Heather-Lin It's so pretty!!!! The cover, I mean 😸


Chaima ✨ شيماء Veronika Iris wrote: "I'm so looking forward to your review!"

Thank you so much!!!!


Chaima ✨ شيماء Aoife wrote: "More important or more interesting...these don't always align the way we'd typically like sadly

I hope you can get some of the things you need to do done, but I also hope you get to get lost in a ..."


Right! Exactly! Thank you, Aoife!!!


message 16: by Aoife (new)

Aoife Any time girl, I've often been called a shoulder demon 😈 and love to find ways to rationalise things we want to pretend we don't like to do...like chocolate is part of our 5 a day as it comes from a cocoa bean 😂 😇


Becca | Pages & Postcards Hope you love it!


message 18: by Gerardine (new) - added it

Gerardine  Betancourt i need that book in my life


message 19: by Tucker (last edited Jul 30, 2019 06:17PM) (new) - added it

Tucker adequately hydrated who?


Jackie ϟ Bookseller omg, I have this ARC and now it's getting moved up on my TBR


message 21: by Bookcircus (new) - added it

Bookcircus Can’t wait to read your review and also read this book!!


Gabriella Bowden This book is so amazing!


Lisa *OwlBeSatReading* Gosh!! The cover is beautiful enough, can I even cope with the story itself after what you’ve just said?!!


message 24: by Elise (new) - added it

Elise This one is next up on my tbr! Glad to hear it was engaging!! *phew!*


Chaima ✨ شيماء Manal wrote: "I also want to read this book asap! Looking forward to your review!! 💜"

ahh thank you <3 I hope you love it as well!!


Chaima ✨ شيماء Heather-Lin wrote: "It's so pretty!!!! The cover, I mean 😸"

ITS GORGEOUS!!!


message 27: by Tucker (new) - added it

Tucker i'm gonna be completely honest. i clicked the "read more" button expecting my laptop to crash after trying to load your long-ass review because my laptop is a potato. in all seriousness, i love you and your long reviews. i can't wait for this one


Chaima ✨ شيماء Aoife wrote: "Any time girl, I've often been called a shoulder demon 😈 and love to find ways to rationalise things we want to pretend we don't like to do...like chocolate is part of our 5 a day as it comes from ..."

😂😂😂


Chaima ✨ شيماء Becca | Pages & Postcards wrote: "Hope you love it!"

It was amazing 💕


Chaima ✨ شيماء Gerardine wrote: "i need that book in my life"

YOU DO!!!!!


Chaima ✨ شيماء Tucker wrote: "adequately hydrated who?"

oh big mood


message 32: by Amelia (new) - added it

Amelia Oh WOW that cover!


message 33: by Sanne ♔ (new) - added it

Sanne ♔ (Sanne and the Books) thank you for this review! i'm definitely going to buy this book once it comes out ♥


message 34: by Chiara (new)

Chiara Situmorang wow this is such a gorgeous review. i can tell exactly what kind of book this is just from the fact that you are gushing about it in the most poetic, reminiscent way possible lol


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