Tag: Historical Fiction

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

I learned from reading The Once and Future Witches that Ms. Harrow is an excellent storyteller; a writer capable of weaving delicate wisps of plot and story that intertwine innocently until they don’t.

I was hesitant, however to pick up The Ten Thousand Doors of January because it was her first novel, and I just enjoyed Witches so damn much.

Boy am I a moron.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is the story of January Scallar: the semi-ward of a wealthy Vermont businessman/collector/eccentric. January doesn’t really fit in this world. She is basically holed up in Mr. Locke’s Vermont mansion while her father travels the world building up Locke’s collections of interesting artifacts.

As the story progresses, we start to learn that there is quite a bit more going on surrounding Mr. Locke, January’s father, and January herself. There are a multitude of worlds hidden behind random doors all over this world.

As I do not like to spoil any novel I read, I’m going to leave the synopsis at that.

As I mentioned earlier, what strikes me in reading Ms. Harrow’s works is the rolling and organic way her storytelling develops. Both of the works I’ve read from her, and especially this one, showcase and absolute love of the storytelling tradition and her adroit way of pulling in the reader as if in conversation. I absolutely love this style and I wish there was more of it.

The sensory descriptions in this book absolutely lend to the style. All of the smells, sounds, tastes and textures come to life in a flowing language that gently cradles the reader like a warm hearth. Cheesy description, but apt.

I know that Ms. Harrow has stated a few times that she has no plans of revisiting the tales of January and the multitude of doors, but, with so many doors, who says that intentions have to be stated?

The Conductors by Nicole Glover

The Conductors (A Murder & Magic Novel) by [Nicole Glover]

This book was provided to me by NetGalley in return for a fair review

It’s only been recently that I have started reading more in the realm of historical fiction, but I’m finding I am enjoying it more and more. In The Conductors, Ms. Glover — in her debut offering, by the way — weaves an intriguing tale of a very closely knit community in Philadelphia; loosely tied together by their traditions, a heritage of stellar magic, and two former conductors on the underground railroad who now spend time solving some of the mysteries of this community.

Interspersed with looks back to pre-freedom times, and how a fair number of the primary characters came into the orbit of Hetty and Benjy (our crafty protagonists), one cannot help but see the comparisons to Octavia Butler’s Kindred.

This novel, however, very much stands on its own two feet. With the introduction of a mysterious murder of someone close in their circle, the two main characters — Hetty and Benjy Rhodes — begin an investigation that uncovers intrigue, shame, lies to one another, and lies to oneself.

Above all, though, I find The Conductors a story of love and self-discovery. Even without the wonderful booster of magic, sorcery, and the acceptance and acceptable use thereof; this novel would still reach its intended point. The magic, though, makes it all that much more interesting.

Book Review: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

This book was provided to me by NetGalley in return for a fair review

49504061. sy475

This book was an absolute wonder; a tale of women who tried, and women who dared. Women who took the rules and norms of an uncertain time in their hands and used the ways, the words, and definitely the will to attempt change an untenable situation.

Basically put, the Eastwood sisters are moderately fledgling witches who each set out, individually, from their horror of a home to find a better life in the city of New Salem. Each has their own motivation, and none figured their sisterhood would figure into their bigger pictures.

What pulls them back together is a promise for renewed magic and a strong danger with powers and wiles vastly unknown to any of them.

You have the stalwart Agnes, who finds herself working in a small factory, the studious Bella who satiates her craving for knowledge at a library, and the youngest, and wildest of the three, James Juniper, who embodies the piss and vinegar required to help pull everyone together to right the wrongs pushed on them by a male-dominated society.

In the unfolding of this amazing tale, Ms. Harrow presents an incredibly multi-faceted approach at the history of women and the ways of their folk, their mothers, their mothers’ mothers and the subtle wending of witchy ways.

Set in the backdrop of a rising suffragist movement. Very quickly, the Eastwood sisters, June most of all, pulls together a group of high-spirited compatriots to try to sort out the troubling storm brewing in New Salem and the apparent rise of one Gideon Hill.

What unfolds is a very heartwarming tale of determination and sacrifice; a grand story of rediscovering lost histories and unearthing the untapped potential in those who have seemingly lost everything.

This is definitely a book I will be revisiting. The characters are all rich, diverse and very relatable. The twists are all incredibly well-formed and exhilarating as well as heart-breaking. For every gain of self-realization, there also comes the heartbreak of the reality of choices.

I would not have changed anything at all.

Order your copy here.