Review | The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow

Title: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alex E Harrow

Published: September 10, 2019

Genre(s): fantasy, historical fiction, magical realism, young adult

Read as: audiobook, library

Rating: 2

Rating: 2 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. (Goodreads)

“May she wander but always return home, may all her words be written true, may every door lie open before her.” 

I find it especially difficult to find the words to review a book I only felt “meh” about. When you love a book it is easy to gush over the parts of it that brought you joy. When you particularly dislike something you read it is simple to put to words the why’s and reasons you didn’t like it. But when you find something neither particularly good or particularly bad what is there to say?

I will say that for large chunks of this book I was frightfully bored.

January is an interesting enough character. As a small child she is willful and bold, constantly getting herself into trouble that her wealthy benefactor gets herself out of. Then comes the emotional child abuse where he tells her she must behave only as he sees fit or so help him…well, you get the picture. The book gives you a very clear glimpse early on as to this man’s character and it is severely wanting.

Honestly, for the most part of this book you are just watching January grow up and cater to the whims of this man who employs her father. There are bits about her strained relationship with said father but for the most part he is a non-entity. What kind of decent father abandons their child with an eccentric old man in a mansion?

You know, the more I type the more I want to change something. I had initially given this book a 3 star. I am currently changing it to a 2 because I’m having trouble finding anything positive to say about this book. The only positive coming to mind is that it is atmospheric. The settings are clear and easy to picture and they always seem to have a bit of mystery and strangeness to them.

There, I said something nice. Aren’t we proud?

Look, this story was just boring. It dragged on and on and on for chapters that felt completely unnecessary. There is a whole bit that takes place in a mental institute that just made me want to bang my head on the wall. The plot is slow moving, the characters are all relatively cookie cutter and dull, and the over arching story objective is based on family and, I’m sure you didn’t know this about me but now you do, I hate stories that revolve wholly around family ties and found family. I find them exceedingly dull.

Was the general concept of this book good? Sure, absolutely. But then it drug on for 100 pages more than it needed. If this had been a novella I think I could have been on board but as is I can’t be bothered to care for it. Do you like slow moving, atmospheric, pseudo fantasy that centers around family? Then you might like The Ten Thousand Doors of January but I won’t be returning to this story at any point.

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