“If we address stories as archaeological sites, and dust through their layers with meticulous care, we find at some level there is always a doorway.”
January Scaller is a young woman of uncertain status. The mixed race protégé of a wealthy and controlling man, she barely knows her father, who travels the world in search of artefacts for his employer, her benefactor. When she finds a mysterious book it unlocks the story of her own past, and the secret of the Doors that she had first stumbled on as a young child. The Doors between worlds.
January refuses to follow the path laid out for her by her mentor and his sinister New England Archaeology Society. With the help of her childhood friend Sam, an enigmatic Kenyan women named Jane sent by her father to be her governess, and loyal dog Bad, she escapes from the asylum in which she has been imprisoned and sets out on an adventure to find her past, and to protect the future from those who want to stifle growth and change.
This is an ambitious book, exploring themes of race, gender, privilege, power, and progress and telling stories within stories. It took me a while to get hooked, as the tone at the beginning when January is a child is a little stilted. But once I was in, I was fully in. January is a lively, intelligent and feisty heroine. And the worlds that she explores through her book and her adventures are welldrawn and captivating. Overall a compelling story with plenty to say.