The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix Harrow

I fell in love with both the title and the cover art of this book without even having much of an idea what it was about, but it was a charming little piece of magic realism. January Scaller is a young woman growing up in Vermont in the early 1900s, cared for by the stern Mr. Locke, her father’s employer, while her mysterious and distant father travels the world looking for exotic objects for Mr. Locke’s collection. As a child, January discovers that perennial childhood fantasy: a door that leads to another world. It’s closed before she has a chance to explore it — but little hints begin coming from all directions that she didn’t just imagine it; there really are doors all over that are portals to other realities. When she finds a mysterious book that tells of the discovery of just such a door, January’s adventures are only beginning.

For some reason this book reminded me of two others I read this year: Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea and Susanna Clarke’s PiranesiAll three could be classed as either fantasy or magic realism, depending on which label you prefer; all three introduce the reader to lovingly detailed otherworlds that exist just on the other side of a door, a portal, a thin veil, from our own everyday world. I found this novel well-written and engaging; it kept me turning pages to find out how January’s story would be resolved and (most importantly) when I got to the end I was satisfied with the resolution. I would recommend this book to anyone who, like me, keeps looking for magical doors to other realities.

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Filed under Fiction -- fantasy

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