I’ve sat on this review for a couple of days because 1) I couldn’t decide how I’d be able to write one and 2) I couldn’t figure out how to describe my thoughts and feelings. Let’s start with the back of the book synopsis.
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.
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.
The above synopsis is accurate but totally different than I would have described this novel. Yes, January Scaller is a curiosity. She’s of mixed race and is the ward of a wealthy white businessman. In his social world, she is a curiosity, but she is also biased against, treated pretty abominably by Mr. Locke, and has an absentee father who occasionally visits but has his own agenda that isn’t explained until the end of the book. January lives in a very black and white world. If not for the friendship of the grocer’s son, she’d be unbearably alone and her life would be pretty bleak.
One day she goes delving into a chest in Mr. Locke’s office and finds a book about these Ten Thousand Doors. When she reads this book she can escape from her dismal life through the story of another young girl. That story is about love at first sight and her journey to find a mysterious young man who had stepped through a door from another world. Doors that may or may not be real. This tale is certainly brighter than January’s own story, and for me more interesting. It’s not until the two stories intertwine that I really became invested in The Ten Thousand Doors of January and the character in her own world.
This novel mixed several genre’s creating a kind of hybrid, atmospheric historical fantasy. I would even say it bordered gothic and was very dark. The elegant prose with which it was written, while beautiful, created an emotional barrier that made it really hard for me to immerse myself in the story and care strongly for January. I did have feeling’s for Her and some of the other characters, but I didn’t feel involved or invested in what happened to them. Am I the only person who’s read this novel that feels this way? It feels like it! Other reviews have waxed lyrical about the writing, and it was certainly all that, but for me, there was a piece missing that kept it from being a great novel. Can I pinpoint what that may be? No. Not to say that I hated all of it, I didn’t! I loved how there were doors into other worlds and the possibility of journeys into those worlds. Unfortunately with a couple of exceptions that I can’t go into without spoiling the outcome, those weren’t avenues that were explored much in this novel.
I did like the alternate storyline. It was a wonderful journey of exploration and self discovery. January’s storyline was a bit more subversive, her story was about wanting something strong enough to change her circumstances and go after it. She did do that, I just wish I had cared more for that self exploration than I did. ❤️❤️❤️❣️
I received a free copy of this ARC for my honest review and it was honest.
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