“It is at the moments when the doors open, when things flow between the worlds, that stories happen.”
As the announcement of the Locus Awards 2020 winners loom closer, let's have a closer look at one of our contestants. 'The Ten Thousands Doors of January' by Alix E. Harrow is nominated for the Locus Award for best debut novel, and it's a stunner for fans of historical fantasy.
Ex-historian Alix E. Harrow weaves a beautiful tale set in the early 1900s featuring doorways to other worlds, that reads a bit like 'Inkheart' meets 'Neverwhere' with a dash of 'Locke and Key' . Young January Scaller is plunged into an adventure of self discovery and magic when she discovers the existence of Doors– passages that link our world to others and are always accompanied by changes in both worlds.
January is a ward of the rich, artifact-collecting Mr. Locke, who raises her while her own father traipses the world searching for more items for Mr. Locke's collection. Feeling like she doesn't quite fit in, between her skin colour (she's described as having "coppery-red" skin) and 'untameable' hair, and her "temerarious" personality that often puts her at odds with the proper Mr. Locke, January longs to break free and find her purpose and her place in the world. Her world is turned upside-down when she discovers a mysterious book describing the existence of Doors that take you to other worlds.
This is a fantastic read that feels like a few different genres simultaneously – it is a fantasy novel that very much leans towards the historical fiction side, but also has some beautiful romantic themes in it. In this way, it's similar to the feel of another book I loved, 'The Binding' by Bridget Collins. It breaks a lot of character stereotypes, and January makes for a strong female protagonist who is easy to empathise with and is a fascinating character in her own right. The prose is lyrical without getting too carried away, and has a really interesting premise with sublime execution. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one!
The Ten Thousand Doors of January is also in the running for the Hugo Award for Best Novel– winners are announced at the end of July, so there's still plenty of time to snag a copy to read beforehand!
P.S. If you've already read and liked 'The Ten Thousand Doors of January', you may also like 'The Doll Factory' – another fabulous debut historical novel with strong female characters and an un-put-down-able plot.