C.G. Drews's Reviews > The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
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really liked it
bookshelves: adult, 4-star, magical-fantasy, read-2020, historical-fiction

reading this book was like experiencing something gorgeous and beautiful and aching. I fully admire the writing and wanted to save half a million quotes. It also gave me strong flashbacks to things like Narnia (my whole childhood was Narnia so this story was such an adult homecoming) and also Strange the Dreamer, utterly and fully. If you love Strange, do try this. I think the strength of this book was the prose first, characters second. And it always takes me a little while to settle into the hum and flow of adult lit. But it was like this gorgeous, frothy and intricately frosted cake you have to eat with reverence. (I want to write this beautifully someday.)

I do prefer character-driven books though, so in that regard I always found January less of a compelling heroine (also team Samuel-deserved-better-absolutely-the-whole-time) and I constantly wanted more and more of the side characters. (Ade and Yule were my HEART.)

It also had thoughtful and hurting discussions on the injustice of misused power, colonialism, racism, the corruption of old white men who think everything belongs to them, and how women were called hysterical and mentally ill in the 19th century for daring to have a personality. Be a good girl...you just want to crush ink in Locke's eye honestly. (I researched, but I don't believe it's #ownvoices for the biracial rep, but it was very heavily about being biracial, so...that left me unsure sometimes.)

This is full of Doors and worlds so different, but similar to ours, and gah, I love that. It's enchanting. I wanted more in all the worlds though, less in ours. And the style was stories within stories, so it was like 80% being told instead of experiencing it which...is a style. So I try to just appreciate the book for what it was.

Definitely a slow and whimsical story that unpacks how women are so often reduced to being powerless and how it feels to fight back, find your feet, and start yelling or screaming if that's what it takes. It's about searching for home. Finding your people. True love. And it's about the magic of words.

I also lowkey had to read this in January for OBVIOUS REASONS.


"Because I didn't want to be safe, I suppose. I wanted to be dangerous, to find my own power and write it on the world."

Perhaps I keep writing because I was raised in a world where words have power, where curves and spirals of ink adorn sails and skin, where a sufficiently talented word-worker might reach out and remake her world. Perhaps I cannot believe words are entirely powerless, even here.

Worlds were never meant to be prisons, locked and suffocating and safe. Worlds were supposed to be great rambling houses with all the windows thrown open and the wind and summer rain rushing through them, with magic passages in their closets and secret treasure chests in their attics.

I hope you will find the cracks in the world and wedge them wider, so the light of other suns shines through; I hope you will keep the world unruly, messy, full of strange magics; I hope you will run through every open Door and tell stories when you return.
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Reading Progress

August 23, 2019 – Shelved
August 23, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
January 26, 2020 – Started Reading
January 27, 2020 –
page 241
64.44% "I'm really rather obsessed with how beautiful this is (even if January doesn't have a lot of agency)"
January 28, 2020 – Shelved as: adult
January 28, 2020 – Shelved as: 4-star
January 28, 2020 – Shelved as: magical-fantasy
January 28, 2020 – Shelved as: read-2020
January 28, 2020 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
January 28, 2020 – Finished Reading

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