Harrow imbues her debut, set primarily in early-20th-century Vermont, as well as in an alternative world called the City of Nin, with genealogical mystery. The immensely wealthy William Cornelius Locke employs Julian Scaller as a plunderer of valuable artifacts, a job that prevents Julian from being a proper parent to his daughter, January. To fill the void left by January’s traveling father and her mother, whose absence is initially unexplained, Locke ensconces January in his mansion as his ward. January discovers that she has the power to write words that open doors leading to other worlds, including the City of Nin. Throughout the novel, Harrow quotes at excessive length from The Ten Thousand Doors, a book Julian owns, and January gradually discerns a connection between her own life and that of Adelaide Lee Larson, a character in Doors. Harrow weaves in commentary on race: Julian is black and January’s mother is white, and, in a clever inversion, in one of the worlds January visits, everyone is black and racism is nonexistent. Harrow’s novel will hold strong appeal to readers who enjoy portal fantasies featuring adventuresome women. Agent: Kate McKean, Morhaim Literary. (Sept.)
"Many worlds, vanishing doors, mind-cracking magic: I clung to each page, searching for answers. This is one of the most unique works of fiction I've ever read!" Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author
" The Ten Thousand Doors of January begins as a simple adventure, but like its mysteriously transportive doors, leads deeper and deeper the further you read. Each page dazzles with things to be discovered: a mansion of priceless artefacts, a secret journal, a tantalizing quest through strange and beautiful places, and a love story that spans time, worlds, and magic. I couldn't put it down." Peng Shepherd, critically acclaimed author of The Book of M
"A gorgeous, aching love letter to stories, storytellers and the doors they lead us through... absolutely enchanting." Christina Henry, national bestselling author of Lost Boys and Alice
"Harrow has created a gorgeous world of magic that is at once familiar and startlingly new. With lush writing and a sense of wonder, The Ten Thousand Doors of January examines power, progress, and identity. It is an adventure in the best and grandest sense." Erika Swyler, author of The Book of Speculation
" The Ten Thousand Doors of January is devastatingly good, a sharp, delicate nested tale of worlds within worlds, stories within stories, and the realm-cracking power of words." Melissa Albert, New York Times bestselling author of The Hazel Wood
" The Ten Thousand Doors of January healed hurts I didn't even know I had. An unbearably beautiful story about growing up, and everything we fight to keep along the way." Amal El-Mohtar, Hugo Award-winning author
"A love letter to imagination, adventure, the written word, and the power of many kinds of love." Kirkus
" A gorgeously written story of love and longing, of what it means to lose your place in the world, and then have the courage to find it again. This book is a door I'm glad to have opened." Kat Howard, author of An Unkindness of Magicians
" The Ten Thousand Doors of January is both whimsical and smart, using engaging writing and a unique plot to touch on serious topics. Harrow's debut reads like a love letter to the art of storytelling itself, and readers will be eager for more from her." Booklist
" The Ten Thousand Doors of January is rich and poignant, angry and beautiful, by turns. Alix Harrow has written a stunning, unforgettable debut." Gwenda Bond, New York Times bestselling author
" Every page of this smart, heartfelt expedition celebrates an abiding love of stories and slips between genres in wonderful ways. Readers are going to relish every sentence and surprise in this bookI know I did!" Matthew Sullivan, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
"A stunning debut novel with inventive worlds, sumptuous language and impeccably crafted details... Readers seeking a fresh fantasy with an enduring love story need look no further, and they'll be left wistfully hoping to stumble upon doors of their own." BookPage
"To open this book is to open a Door to a brand new world that you'll never want to leave. With the masterful prose of a true Wordworker, Harrow has created a richly imagined, multi-layered narrative full of wonder, sorrow, and strength." Jordanna Max Brodsky, author of The Wolf in the Whale
'Beautifully written. . . a wonderful, insightful, and imaginative book. I highly recommend it." Josiah Bancroft, author of Senlin Ascends
"All the magic you once knew but have almost forgotten waits in these pages for you to discover again. With a masterful voice and a spellbinding story, reading The Ten Thousand Doors of January feels like coming back to a beloved childhood classic to find it unexpectedly grew up with you. It's a deeply satisfying pleasure to read, and lingers in your heart afterward. I loved it!" Melissa Caruso, author of The Tethered Mage
An independent young girl finds a blue door in a field and glimpses another world, nudging her onto a path of discovery, destiny, empowerment, and love.
Set at the turn of the 20th century, Harrow's debut novel centers on January Scaller, who grows up under the watchful eye of the wealthy Cornelius Locke, who employs her father, Julian, to travel the globe in search of odd objects and valuable treasures to pad his collection, housed in a sprawling Vermont mansion. January appears to have a charmed childhood but is stifled by the high-society old boy's club of Mr. Locke and his friends, who treat her as a curiosity—a mixed-race girl with a precocious streak, forced into elaborate outfits and docile behavior for the annual society gatherings. When she's 17, her father seemingly disappears, and January finds a book that will change her life forever. With her motley crew of allies—Samuel, the grocer's son; Jane, the Kenyan woman sent by Julian to be January's companion; and Bad, her faithful dog—January embarks on an adventure that will lead her to discover secrets about Mr. Locke, the world and its hidden doorways, and her own family. Harrow employs the image of the door ("Sometimes I feel there are doors lurking in the creases of every sentence, with periods for knobs and verbs for hinges") as well as the metaphor (a "geometry of absence") to great effect. Similes and vivid imagery adorn nearly every page like glittering garlands. While some stereotypes are present, such as the depiction of East African women as pantherlike, the book has a diverse cast of characters and a strong woman lead. This portal fantasy doesn't shy away from racism, classism, and sexism, which helps it succeed as an interesting story.
A love letter to imagination, adventure, the written word, and the power of many kinds of love.
DEBUT When she was seven, January Scaller found a blue door in the middle of a Kentucky field. It seemed ordinary, until she wrote "she opened the door" in her diary. The world suddenly shifted, and she walked through the portal to another place. At first between worlds, she eventually arrived safely on the other side and was mesmerized by what she found there. She might have stayed had her wealthy benefactor, Cornelius Locke, not called her name. January's father, Julian, travels the world collecting oddities for Cornelius and his amateur archaeological society. But each has his own agenda—one to open doors, the other to close them. January will soon learn there are ten thousand doors to ten thousand worlds, and that she has the power to control them and command her own destiny. VERDICT Harrow's expressive debut depicts humankind's resistance to change, repression of the "other," and the desperation of the privileged when their prosperity is threatened. Fans of C.S. Lewis will be drawn to this magical coming-of-age tale and allegorical commentary on social justice.—K.L. Romo, Duncanville, TX