The Ten Thousand Doors of January — Review

I sometimes write as The Book Queen at http://www.candorzine.com, and my first article was a list of books I enjoyed while nursing my son during the wee hours of the morning. One book I added to the list as a bonus book was The Night Circus, a book I’ve read at least five times now, and that got me through 82 hours (!!) of labor with Nolan. The setting & characters are so decadent, this book made me forget I was very impatiently waiting for my little dude to arrive.

So, needless to say, I LOVE The Night Circus. It’s in my top 10 for life. Unfortunately, SO MANY BOOKS try to be the next Night Circus, and I fall for the trap every.damn.time. AND NONE OF THEM ARE. This one…this one is close.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a story within a story, with worlds within worlds. It follows January Scaller, the ward of a rich collector named Cornelius Locke, while her father is out exploring the world to find collectible items for him, in the early 1900s. She is of ambiguous ancestry with a darker skin tone, and often hears disparaging remarks about this. (It is interesting to note that the author appears to be white, so I’m not sure how to feel about this.) January has done a lot of traveling with Mr. Locke and has seen a number of different earthly paces, but she is very lonely and often not included fully into the adventures.

The beginning of the book moves a little slowly; there’s almost too much of Harrow setting the scene. However, once the story got going, the author did a phenomenal job of building mysterious worlds within worlds. January grows so much as a character, and I loved seeing her strength emerge.

While this book is, again, NOT the next Night Circus, it definitely gave me similar vibes. There was lots of magic, a gorgeous setting, children getting forced into using magic they don’t understand, and it took place within a similar time frame. There were also stories within stories and they were tied together beautifully at the end.

I think that Harrow wrote this book as a love letter to other books, and I often was breathless by the way she wrote about reading, writing, and how those two things can take us to other worlds. The quotes page on Goodreads for this novel is full of lush phrasing gushing over how wonderful it is to read, to write, and to escape, and also not super-spoilery, so give it a glance.

This book is a 4/5 star book for me and absolutely worth your time! Savor it!

…Stories may change the world. (pg 134)

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