Read March 2021
Because it contains one trope I hate,¹ a character type I dislike,² and a plot choice I dislike³ with what is looking to be a fairly predictable story that’s lingering in the wrong spots. In short, promising beginning, but an execution that was empathetically Not For Me. Despite Harrow’s often lovely writing and wonderful imagery, I don’t know when I’ll return.
¹ Mental institutions
³ Twue Wov
I tried this as an Audible book and returned it. Dull and irritating.
I sent it to a friend who like YA books and she loved it. I found it unbearably wrong-headed and dull.
I really loved one of Harrow’s shorts. And I might try to get to the end because of ‘reveals,’ but this is hitting a lot of my personal annoyances. It’s very much a style and plot that won’t be universal–I understand the mixed reactions.
I did too. Here, sI understand that readers love this book. A younger me might have too, but there is absolutely nothing new here and too much telling. The author tells about the doors, tells about simplistic characters, tells about magic, tells of the existence of fabulous places reached through doors. Then the story doesn’t go there. I wish she’d shown more, explained less, complicated her villains, and cut most of the figurative language.
Harrow uses but does not adequately explore Jane’s and January’s identity as women of color. Racism is a minor (seriously, how can it be minor?) conflict. The use of decorative, but often weirdly inappropriate similes and analogies worked more as distraction than to serve clarity. The purpose of these verbal tools is to make literature more vivid and relatable, not merely to prettify the page. Rather than advancing the scene, here they often detracted from the story. Some of the analogies are pretty but do not make any kind of sense: a boat “smells of sunsets on strange horizons, of nameless constellations and spinning compass needles and the forgotten borderlands at the edge of the world.” And that is one of the better ones. Pure decoration without any meaning at all, and in a world of shallow good-vs-evil. Please.
Wow, what an insightful analysis. Excellent point about showing us the doors and then going nowhere with them–that was the part about the narrator that bothered me so much. She discovers this wondrous thing and then lets it sit there in her memory for years and years.