The story begins in 1901, with January Scaller, a young girl who lives in a lovely home in rural Vermont. This home is filled with strange and wonderful objects, found by her father for owner of the home, Mr. Locke. Mr. Locke is a member of a prestigious archaeological society and loves to be known as a collector of wondrous things but prefers not to do the collecting himself. So he sends Julian Scaller on the search, sometimes for months at a time. While Julian is away, Mr. Locke looks after young January. He buys her starched dresses and shiny shoes and extols her to behave while on trips of their own to sell select pieces of his extraordinary collection to other members of the archaeological society.
On one such trip brings them to a small town in the South. The staff at the hotel do not know how to react to January because while her caregiver is obviously rich and she is finely dressed, she is also clearly not white. When Mr. Locke leaves her to her own devices while he conducts his business, January feels uncomfortable in the hotel and wanders outside in search of entertainment. What she finds is a Door. It seems to be all that is left of structure that has fallen, freestanding in a field. But when she steps through the Door, she can smell the sea. She is overwhelmed and soon retreats to the field where she found the Door but not before picking up a coin she finds in the strange, brine scented place. Mr. Locke, who has come in search of his lost pet, listens to her astounding story before telling her it is nonsense and insisting that she stop making up such fanciful things. He becomes so angry that he burns the Door in front of January and when they returns home, hires a very strict nanny for her, to see that her wayward behavior is curbed.
The story begins with hints of larger things to come. It shows us January’s anger (at times left to seethe and at times exploding forth), it teases at the true character of Mr. Locke, it introduces a single Door, leaving you even more curious about the ten thousand in the title. This is a story about the power of words, of finding your place, of seeing new things. It contains fully fleshed characters, simple kindness, a very good dog, darkly evil deeds, and at least one vampire. It’s a story with revelations that will make you gasp and plots that will make your heart yearn for adventure. It’s a story that is an incredible accomplishment for a debut author and one that has left me eagerly awaiting Ms. Harrow’s next.