November featured not as much reading as I’m used to. That’s because I finished my rewrite as my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project, rather than writing the requisite 50,000 words. I did it! I completed the rewrite, and it is now sitting in beta readers’ inboxes. The work took a lot out of me, so much so that I’m still feeling vaguely hungover.
December will feature some more things. But also, what do you mean it’s December already?
Read an ARC from the publisher Content warning: chronic illness, rape (implied, not depicted)
Zinnia Gray has a chronic illness which will claim her life before she turns twenty-two. Charm, her best friend, throws a Sleeping Beauty-themed birthday party that accidentally causes a dimensional rift which sends Zinnia to the world of another Sleeping Beauty, Primrose. The two embark on a quest to wrench agency and salvation from their own crappy happy-ever-afters, while encountering a multi-verse of other Beauties.
This book is incredibly sad. There are constant reminders of Zinnia’s countdown, and the relationship between her and Charm is filled with so much angst. The love between them is firmly founded by their friendship, and strengthened by everything that unspools in these brief pages.
It’s wonderfully feminist in the way that the girls want to work together to save each other from their own crappy fates. The hope also comes from a place tinged with a wish these girls didn’t have to be strong in the ways that they are. It balances out the fairy tale fun of the story such that it works, with the constant emotive tension. The bit where they meet the Maleficent character is absolutely heart-breaking, and I’m not going to spoil it here. It just works.
It’s not my lane to speak to, but I do want to highlight that there is a bit of magical cure in which the havoc wreaked on Zinnia’s body is reversed at the end of the adventure, though the illness itself remains. If this is a trope you’d rather avoid, I’m not sure how much the series will work to subvert it, so that’s to be determined.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2019
Source: Library audiobook
Listened to the audiobook
Throughout literature and movies, there was a kind of fascination with the idea of grand adventures who sought treasure. Going into this book, I knew that it was a coming of age tale about a girl with the power to cross into other worlds and having been raised by one such adventurer. I didn’t expect the thorough admonishment of the whole practice through the points of view of magic and family.
This book is whimsy from start to finish, despite the heavier moments and times I wish that January’s ability to word craft and jump into other tales would solve her problems, aside from create new ones. I loved how this ability also gave us insight into January’s father and how he got roped into the society. There’s a heavy focus on roles and the things certain folk are around to do, but it’s folded so nicely into the plot, it doesn’t come off as pedantic at all. It truly condemns the entire notion of treasure hunting and who the real monsters are (sometimes disguised as actual monsters).
There’s also a very good dog named Sinbad who doesn’t die in the book. Some parts romp, some parts found and given family feelings, The Ten Thousand Doors of January is an adventure perfect for fans of Wayward Children.