Hello lovely people! I recently participated in an extra special buddy read with the lovely Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts (who you should definitely go follow if you aren’t already!) Jenna is one of the loveliest people I’ve ‘met’ through the blogging community and I’m so happy we finally did a buddy read together. I love that she has such a unique way of doing her buddy reads; I’ve never done one like this before but it was so much fun!
So basically, Jenna and I both read The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow and then exchanged a couple of questions about it – and you can read our answers below!
Question 1: Who was your favourite character in the novel?
Jenna: It’s a tie between Bad and Jane. As an animal lover, I feel as though loving Bad (January’s amazing canine companion) is an obvious one. But it’s not just because he’s a dog … he symbolizes the love and companionship and loyalty January was missing in her life until Bad came into her life. Then there’s Jane, this amazingly strong and independent woman who doesn’t let anymore push her around. She’s a pretty good role-model, showing to not let people get to you or dictate your life even though they think they can. She’s a black woman in the early 1900’s, so there’s a lot of garbage she has to deal with. But she doesn’t let if phase her … I just love it.
Alex: Is it cliché to say January? I just feel like she was such a great heroine. She faced so many obstacles and she always showed such courage and strength, never giving up in her quest. She’s definitely the kind of character I want to be reading about.
I also really liked Samuel; he was such a kind and pure soul, and he was always there when he was needed. He’s the good egg, cinnamon roll character I always love in a book.
Question 2: If you could find a door to a magical world, where would it go?
Jenna: Probably somewhere similar to Middle Earth, full of magic and mythical beings. I’d want to visit the Shire and the elven cities. OH! Okay … I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s a VERY important door in The Ten Thousand Doors of January (the blue door, I think … you’ll know what I mean) that leads to a place surrounded by water … I want to go there.
Alex: I could give numerous soppy answers for this question but I don’t want to get too deep haha. However, I would love to find some kind of mystical Tolkien-esque world where creatures like dragons exist and magic is real. This book filled me with that childish sense of wonder and reminded me what it’s like to believe in miracles; it would be amazing to actually find a world like that.
Question 3: Though this is predominantly a fantasy novel, Harrow’s story also falls under historical fiction. Did you find Harrow portrayed the time period accurately?
Jenna: As someone that has a BIT of a history background (but not overly extensive), I found her attention to detail regarding the time period was spot on! From the clothing to the way people were treated with regards to social standards, Harrow really brought to life our world in the early 1900’s. She even references certain events very matter-of-fact like from the MC’s point of view, showing that they don’t really know what’s to come in the next couple of years but alludes to what we know comes later on in the 1900’s. It was hard a times, since women and those of colour were treated so poorly. But I’m glad she depicted it accurately yet didn’t make it as though these characters would let the world degrade them.
Alex: I loved Harrow’s portrayal of the time period and thought she did really well at conveying the difficulties faced by women and people of colour. Harrow definitely elicited a range of emotions from me on the subject! I think that the choice of time period will make this book appeal to a wider audience; it has that wonderful old-world feel that many readers will love.
I thought it was really clever of Harrow to ground her book in reality, making the possibility of stumbling upon a Door seem even more magical; it didn’t feel far-fetched or impossible to believe because everything else was so realistic.
Question 4: From awards to reviews, The Ten Thousand Doors of January has been rising in popularity and has received a number of fans from a wide number of genre preferences. What do you think makes this book so much more different than other fantasy novels?
Jenna: I think it’s because she caters to a wide audience both in genre and in writing elements. In library school, we learned about the four main types of readers: character, setting, story and language oriented readers. Most books tend to focus on one of these elements, possibly two, more than the other ones. But Harrow managed to equally balance ALL of these elements in order to draw a larger number of readers in … which is quite the talent! There’s also a large part of me that believes, as much as we see the purpose and joy of technology, many of us have this affinity and love for the simplicity of non-technology days … with technology being able to prove and disprove so many things, it sometimes leaves little room for the beauty of believing in things like magic and parallel worlds. With Harrows story reflecting our world so accurately in the 1900’s but with the added touch of fantasy, it makes you feel as though magic really COULD exist … that Doors are a real thing.
Alex: It’s a book that defies boundaries. It isn’t just one thing. It isn’t written solely for one age group, it doesn’t fit neatly into one genre, and it doesn’t prioritise plot over characters or vice versa – everything is given equal weight. I think it’s rare that a book is able to accomplish something like that. Also, as I already mentioned, this book triggers that nostalgic feeling in its readers, that longing to chase adventure and find magic around every corner. It’s a special one, for sure.
If you’re still not convinced that this is a novel you need to read, check out my spoiler-free review here!
Also, if you’d ever like to buddy read anything with either myself or Jenna, don’t hesitate to ask – we both love it! I always find I get even more out of a book if I can discuss it in greater detail with someone 😀