Book reviews / Fantasy

Book review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

This book was a really interesting and fun read. I’m always super impressed when something as well put together and lovely turns out to be someone’s first published novel. I imagine if I tried it would be way scrappier.

The novel’s central premise is that there are doors between worlds, they appear in thin places between worlds and people can cross the Threshold and end up in another world. And in these words are vampires, witches, normal people, magic or terrible things. January, the main character, has a long history with these doors, but she doesn’t know it at the start of the book. I won’t give too much away (though you can guess fairly on where it leads), as it’d ruin some of the magical discovery of reading a lovely book.

January grows up fairly lonely, though well taken care of by a rich benefactor who employs her father to essentially treasure hunt across the world and bring back archaeological specimens. However, the archeological society turns out to be more than just an innocent (not really that innocent) amateur archeologists as you later find out.

But what was wonderful about the book was the language and descriptions. You really do feel how lonely January is and how she is riotous underneath her pretence of being an agreeable girl (the novel takes place around the turn of the twentieth century). I loved her unlikely companion (which I also won’t spoil because I loved reading it myself). I loved the found friends narrative as the novel progresses.

As well, it subtly addresses a few Big Things like a woman’s place in the world and expectations, subtle and unsubtle racism as well as the impact of money and someone’s station in the world. It wasn’t in a KLANG we’re going to talk about racism kind of way either, it fit within the narrative and structure of the book so it *felt* like something characters would say or think.

But there is such a wonderful mix of characters, including many wonderful women like Jane and Molly Neptune (major and minor alike). And Adelaide, who I really loved.

There’s a whole lot to love in this novel and very little to dislike. The plot is very guessable but I don’t think that’s a major detraction as there is still so much story to discover even when you know where it is headed. It’s one of the rare books where I didn’t mind the journey ambling around a bit, before getting to the destination.

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