The Ten Thousand Doors of January
November 15, 2019 2:34 PM - by Alix E. Harrow - Subscribe

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place. Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
posted by dinty_moore (8 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is a very good debut novel, though some of it seems a little too obvious for my tastes (I think I would have enjoyed this book more if Mr. Locke had not had such an obvious villain name in a novel about doors). I wish that Jane and Samuel had more space for their personalities (especially Samuel).

There's the obvious connection to A Witch's Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies, but other than having the same outlook on portal fantasies, they don't have very much in common. The Ten Thousand Doors is the more interesting story - less of a white savior bent, for one thing.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:39 PM on November 15, 2019

(I think I would have enjoyed this book more if Mr. Locke had not had such an obvious villain name in a novel about doors)

Yep, what I came to say. The novel is quite strongly written but EXTREMELY on the nose.

But I definitely enjoyed it.
posted by selfnoise at 6:59 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I loved this book so much!

For me, the book's political perspective -- portals as openings to radical change, simultaneously dangerous and unpredictable and liberatory for society and maybe needed for the health of worlds -- felt both fresh and deeply resonant, like revealing a new understanding of something that feels deeply, intuitively true.

I also loved the depiction of January's relationship with Mr. Locke (though agree with y'all about his name). It felt like a powerful account of how confusing it is to grow up in an abusive family and, for me at least, wove in the personal elements of that skillfully with the broader oppressive social elements of their dynamics.

I also generally really appreciated the book's deeply anti-colonialist ethos.
posted by overglow at 9:16 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I thought the writing was genuinely quite lovely, as was the idea of the portals, but the plot was so utterly predictable at every turn that I ended up bored and frustrated for most of the book. I constantly felt about ten steps ahead of January, always impatient for her to catch up. I'd have loved it as a younger reader though.
posted by yasaman at 4:39 PM on November 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah - the more I think of it, the more surprising I think it is that it wasn't marketed as YA.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:44 PM on November 18, 2019

Yes, I'm sort of enjoying aspects of this book, but wishing it was a bit more nuanced, a bit less obvious about where it's going and who's about to do what. I'm also disappointed in the way the dog, Bad, is written. Dogs are usually my favorite characters in any story, but this one seems to be included only to be both muscle and magical mind reader. I don't know, it skews immature, and flat to me.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:25 PM on November 25, 2019

I’m halfway through and struggling to stay engaged with any of the three storylines. It’s short book so I’ll probably stick with it but I have a question for those who have finished: is the narrative self-contained, or does it feel like the beginning of a potential series?

Maybe I read too much YA, but this is starting to feel like a book that ostensibly wraps up but ends on a note like “And that is how the ten thousand doors opened for January…and her adventure truly began.”
posted by Ian A.T. at 3:16 PM on April 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

This book reminded me of The Starless Sea and My Name is Memory. I listened to the audiobook and was almost convinced that I'd gotten the first few chapters of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by mistake during the first excerpt because it was so long.

Ian A.T. - I know your question was 2 years go, but for anyone else wondering, the story does not tease a sequel or anything.
posted by soelo at 11:03 AM on June 25, 2022

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