It’s January, and as such it is the perfect time to show love and adoration to one of my favorite books published in 2019: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow.
Ever since I read the summary of this book, long before its release, I wanted it. I needed it. After reading the last page, I curled into a fetal position, the book pressed to my chest, and sobbed. It was a good type of sob, a “the-heart-of-this-book-connected-to-the-heart-of-me” type of sob. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a historical fantasy novel about stories and love. It’s also a portal fantasy about finding doors to worlds that belong to us, as well as building a better world in the one that we’re in.
It’s only fitting I utilize the month of January to return to this beautiful book and list a few quotes that spoke to me. Many of these quotes hold such power, within the context of the book and in the quote itself. It shows Harrow’s mastery down to the sentence level. These are quotes for readers and lovers. These are quotes for those who seek to wander.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January Quotes
But you know what it means when you see the wood Door. Maybe you’ve seen one for yourself, standing half-ajar and rotted in an old church, or oiled and shining in a brick wall. Maybe, if you’re one of those fanciful persons who find their feet running toward unexpected places, you’ve even walked through one and found yourself in a very unexpected place indeed.
There was no room, it turned out, for little girls who wandered off the edge of the map and told the truth about the mad, impossible things they found there.
Because I was seven and stubborn, and didn’t yet understand the cost of true stories.
Those of you who are more than casually familiar with books—those of you who spend your free afternoons in dusty bookshops, who offer furtive, kindly strokes along the spine of familiar titles—understand that page-riffling is an essential element in the process of introducing oneself to a new book.
It was one of those things you want so much it burns, so you keep it deep in the center of yourself like a banked coal.
She knew the land in the way a child knows the land, with an intimacy and fantasy few adults have ever managed.
You see, doors are many things: fissures and cracks, ways between, mysteries and borders. But more than anything else, doors are change.
There’s only one way to run away from your own story, and that’s to sneak into someone else’s.
There is, of course, no such thing as a fallen woman, unless we are speaking of a woman who recently tripped on the stairs.
Doors are revolutions and upheavals, uncertainties and mysteries, axis points around which entire worlds can be turned.
You don’t really know how fragile and fleeting your own voice is until you watch a rich man take it away as easily as signing a bank loan.
The Door opens just for her.
No one really remembers their own origins. Most of us possess a kind of hazy mythology about our early childhood, a set of stories told and retold by our parents, interwoven with our blurred baby memories.
“I will not be your leash, my love.”
How fitting, that the most terrifying time in my life should require me to do what I do best: escape into a book.
He looked directly at me as he finished, with a kind of raised-chin boldness that said: I am not a coward.
Worlds were never meant to be prisons, locked and suffocating and safe. Worlds were supposed to be great ramblings houses with all the windows thrown open and the wind and summer rain rushing through them, with magic passages in their closets and secret treasure chests in their attics.
Dance through this eternal green orchard, where ten thousand worlds hang ripe and red for the plucking; wander with me between the trees, tending them, clearing away the weeds, letting in the air.
“Hello, Samuel,” she says, and her voice is like a knock at that closed door.
An Open Door
The problem is this whole book is quotable. It was an effort in self-restraint, and I tried to avoid quotes that contain major spoilers. Hopefully, I’ve managed to compile a magical list that does the book justice. If you’ve read the book, I hope this list is a sweet blanket of warm reunion. If you haven’t, perhaps this list acts as an enticement—an open door, if you will—for you to enter.