The Ten Thousand Doors of January discussion questions

  1. January insists that words are important. She calls the passages between worlds “doors” while the Society calls them “fractures.” How does the difference between these words describe how each sees them?
  2. The Ten Thousand Doors of January presents a wholly unique world, but it is informed by and firmly in conversation with other works of literature. Are you a regular fantasy reader, or is this outside your typical genre? Did you notice any winks to other works?
  3. Yule Scaller writes that “destiny is a pretty story we tell ourselves… there are only people, and the terrible choices we make.” (p 229) Yet many fairy tales and fantasy stories lean heavily on fate and destiny. How are January and Yule’s ideas about choices different? As a reader, do you see any part fate or chance or destiny plays in their stories?
  4. Yule does contend that “life has a kind of momentum to it, an accumulated weight of decisions which becomes impossible to shift.” (p. 233) Does this sentiment strike you as true? How do we see that for the characters in the book? (January? Mr. Locke? Jane? Samuel? Yule? Adelaide?)
  5. For January, freedom was found in giving up her previously polite persona (p. 326). What amounts to freedom for each of the characters? Mr. Locke? Jane? Samuel? Yule? Adelaide?
  6. January’s father, Yule, wishes he could atone for the years he spent “wrapped in the selfishness of grief.” (p. 238) Do you think he made mistakes in being absent from January’s life? Is selfishness to blame? Is grief a better explanation? Some combination of the two?
  7. The Society thought they were doing good, saving the world from chaos, bloodshed, and revolutions (p. 281), a world of “Progress and Prosperity.” Yule doesn’t know where doors come from, their origin, their creation, or their purpose, yet it was important to Yule and later January to keep the doors open. Do you think members of the society were truly what they truly thought was good for humanity, or seeking their own power? Is it possible to do both?
  8. January is sometimes shielded from racism and sometimes exposed to it. How does the author explore the absurdities of racism by pointing out the dividing lines through different worlds, times, classes, geography?
  9. January claims that “books are doors” (p. 130). Throughout the story she mentions books from Pilgrim’s Progress to Peter Pan, from Oz to Oliver Twist, Treasure Island to The Little Princess. What books have been doors into other worlds for you?

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