Bi-racial January has always felt out-of-place and ignored by her beloved father, Julian, who is a field agent for Mr. Locke, head of the New England Archaeological Society. Julian travels the world looking for rare objects for his benefactor and boss yet he rarely spend time with his daughter.
Lacking a father’s love and support, January turns to Mr. Locke. Though she tries to be Mr. Locke’s “good” girl, she has a taste for adventure that is abhorrent to him. While staying in Kentucky, January walks through a timber frame painted blue. Briefly, against all logic, she experiences a sea-swept world.
Though she does not know it yet, the world is rich with these “doors” that leak revolutionary ideas, people and objects. Mr. Locke and his society know about these doors, which they call aberrations, yet they are determined to close them. When January tries to revisit the world she encountered in Kentucky, she finds that the portal has mysteriously closed.
Harrow describes two warring factions–one open to new ideas and possibilities–and the other adamantly opposed to them. The novel is also a coming-of-age story, a love story and a thriller. January must escape from a number of her adopted father’s goons. Her courage and tenacity are tested to the limits after she is placed in one confining place after another, including an asylum. In the end, she must renounce her surrogate father who thinks of her as merely a “perfect specimen.”
She must find her own power that is separate from Julian’s. Julian, her true father, gives her the book, The Ten Thousand Doors which opens her eyes. He, however, believes once a door is closed, its closed forever. January must find a way to re-open the closed doors, find her real father, and sail her own ship. What a delightful and empowering read!
Alix E. Harrow’s most recent book is The Once and Future Witches.