the ten thousand doors of january – alix e. harrow | review

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Published September 10th 2019 by Redhook
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy


Rating: 5 out of 5.


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.


In The Ten Thousand Doors of January, doors act as gateways to many alternative worlds which prompted the main character on an adventure to discover all the magical places. The book surpassed all my expectations by surprising me with the little world-building details, and the twists and turns. Set in the early 1900s, the book discussed racism, class prejudices, and white powerful men thinking they own the world.

Alix E. Harrow’s writing style is flowery. Since the book has such an extensive fantasy element with doors being portals to different settings, Alix E. Harrow’s lyrical prose did a fantastic job in painting a vivid picture of every place the character visited.

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 rarely read fantasy books that have a strong focus on the main character’s parents and their past. Most of the children were either orphaned from young, their parents are evil or the parents aren’t that significant in their lives. In The Ten Thousand Doors of January, January’s parents and their love story were a huge part. It explained her father’s absence from young and the lack of her mother in January’s life.

Written like a diary, January finds out the reason why she was left behind in an opulent mansion through the leather-bound notebook. A touching book full of yearning, family, and pure love, The Ten Thousand Doors of January showcased a love that kept people moving, living, and surviving despite all the insane odds. Doors destroyed, love separated yet hope lingered in the hearts. 

This is what I am, what I have become: a scavenger scouring the earth, burrowing into its most secret and beautiful places and harvesting its treasures and myths.

As her father ventures to different parts of the world searching for magical objects for January’s rich guardian, she became aware to the racism, injustice, and contempt that colored people faces. January took her own destiny and fate into her own hands as she finds out the truth behind her parents. Her growth and development into a more mature and fiercer girl were interesting. Since this a character-driven story, the plot moved slowly but January’s journey to finding magic and her exploration of the various worlds were awesome.

As for the side characters, Jane is a badass Amazon-esque woman who January came to know through January’s father. Samuel is the grocer boy whom January had known since she was young. A little sweet romance happened between them but nothing too fleshed out.

Overall, absolutely loved the fantastical introduction that doors lead to a multitude of possibilities and worlds. Instead of just January’s story, it extended to her parents. Despite the obstacles she had to face, January was still able to find hope and strength. A love story to magic, family and hope, The Ten Thousand Doors of January wonderfully captured my attention.

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.
(me with school books)

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4 thoughts on “the ten thousand doors of january – alix e. harrow | review”

  1. I still have a copy of The Once and future witches waiting for me but I already read a bit of it and fell in love with the author’s writing, so I’m pretty positive I will be picking this one up, too, especially after reading your thoughts! It sounds incredible ahh!

    Liked by 1 person

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