The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix Harrow
I love this book. This book of Doors, and magic, and liminal spaces just waiting for us to walk through, if we dare. I love the understanding that that mystery, and opening to it, is as necessary to souls, and to worlds, as anything rational ever was, and perhaps more important even than that. Reason, after all, can only take you so far — past that point, it’s necessary to look past the edges, the boundaries, and find the wildness that makes the world, and living in it, real. Change is a major, necessary ingredient for life, and Doors, as January says, bring change, whether we will or no.
What a wonderful set of characters, as real as the people who live on my own street, as complex and wonderfully woven as my neighbors. And such a deep and intricate love story, threads so tangled throughout that if any of them were removed the story would fall apart. And a mystery as well, questions uncurling through the pages, wandering across space and time.
And boy, do the characters grow! That’s something that always resonates with me, too, and there’s not a single character here who doesn’t learn and become, sometimes failing, sometimes falling, but growing through their suffering — which, after all, is the point of suffering in the first place. Not to endure, or not just to endure, but to grow, and become more than you were before, turning the pain into depth.
Then there’s the flaming descriptions of nature — the sky, the trees and forests, the waves and the ocean. The colors are so vivid, the textures so fierce I can touch them. The context given through the details make every place described so real that I feel I can stand there myself. I certainly see them in my sleep.
And I love a dog named Bad! A dog person myself, what’s not to love in that beautiful, strong, loving (and large!) animal — and loyal, so loyal! That dog just tingles through my veins, and makes me appreciate my own large dog, currently sprawled against the front door, guarding it. And probably taking advantage of the breeze from the AC, too.
And all of it finally resolved, complete, but with a new beginning at the end.
If Alix Harrow doesn’t write a sequel to explore that new beginning, I just may hunt her down and tie her to a desk somewhere until she does. That’s not a threat, just a promise.
I’m a fellow writer of fantasy, and Alix Harrow offered a great example of writing, expressing many of the themes of my own writing. I think we’d have a lot in common, a lot to discuss, and if you, as a reader, enjoy her books, I think you might enjoy mine, too.
And now I’m going to go back and reread The Ten Thousand Doors of January, and look into Alix’s other books. I suggest you do as well.