Released: 12th September 2019
EVERY STORY OPENS A DOOR
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place.
But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
This story is set in the early 1900s, and we meet and follow a young girl called January who feels completely out of place and lost in her own life. Her father is a man with whom she desperately wants to connect, and yet he spends his time working away for a wealthy, cold man who keeps her as a ward within his large, sprawling mansion. She longs to go on adventures with her dad and bring colour into the dull, brittle life with Mr. Locke but she is kept locked away until she finds a book that unlocks strange new worlds through different doors.
It was such a joy to escape into the pages of this book and it felt like January was beckoning me to join her as she navigated what became an enriching family saga within a fantastical and whimsical setting. Don't get me wrong, there are dark elements to the plot, but they only make it all the more compelling. It's exquisitely written and though the ending was left open, I was completely satisfied with how things were concluded.
I found January to be such a warm character, longing for affection and then mischievous and daring when she needed to be. As she explores the different worlds and yearns for the family she's seeking, her courage and tenacity comes through the pages and we are rooting for her as the story unfolds.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and found that it brought back that childlike escapism that I remember from favourite titles growing up. There were adult themes and darkness within it, and I would definitely agree that it would appeal to readers of The Binding (a book I read earlier this year and adored) The inclusion of a book within a book will always intrigue me, and the complex and intricate way that January's leather-bound journal brought her towards her own story was incredibly well done.
This is a novel for anyone who remembers that feeling of losing yourself in a book as a child - When you first imagined Narnia and held your breath as you heard the White Witch approach; When you first gazed around in the Secret Garden to smell the flowers; When you peered through the cracks in the Hotel Magnificent in fear of the Grand High Witch (the illustrations in the latter still make the hairs on my neck bristle, even now) Somehow, Alix manages to capture that innocent nostalgia with the adventures of a new and loveably unique character. A wonderful book, and a triumph of a debut. I look forward to reading whatever she writes next.
Thanks so much to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. Also to Orbit Books and Alix E. Harrow for sending me a copy for review.