Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Gillian French, for an honest review.
Ever since sixteen-year-old Natalie Payson moved away from her hometown of Bernier, Maine, she’s had nightmares. And not just the usual ones. These are inside her, pulling her, calling her back, drawing her to a door, a house, a place, a time. Full of fear, full of danger. So this summer, Natalie’s going back to Bernier to face up to a few things: the reason she left town in the first place, the boy she’s trying hard not to trust, and the door in her dreams.
But once she steps through the door, into a murky past, she’s entangled in someone else’s world. And only Natalie can help right the wrongs of both the past and the present.
“As Natalie moved closer to the door, she heard whispers.
Girls’ voices hissed around the frame. ‘Natalie,’ the said. ‘Natalie.’
She opened the door to blackness colder than the pits of January.”
Natalie Payson has been plagued with strange nightmares for the past two years, where voices call her to a house – a door. She has no idea what to make of these dreams or why it whispers to her in her sleep. A house as cold as ice, with frost and snow raining down within and a door that leads to…where? To find out, Natalie must go back to Bernier, Maine – the place she and her family moved away from after a traumatic event in the woods. With her cousin Teddy in tow, Natalie finally enters the mysterious house to get answers and to make the nightmares finally stop. But Natalie’s presence in Bernier sparks more than just a dark history within a farm house, and suddenly more truths that she was prepared for begin to emerge. Truths from both the past and present.
As usual, Gillian French is grabbing her readers by the collar and yanking them into a world of perfectly expressed emotional trauma and deep imagination. The Door to January is the perfect winter read that will chill your spine and frost your windows. It captures the innocence and strength between two young people, Natalie and Teddy, as they begin to experience paranormal phenomena in a farm house in their town, while still dealing with an event from two years prior that changed their lives forever. This book showcases a hopefulness and sweetness coated in dark grit and sorrow that will leave you wanting more. You’ll come for the ghosts, but you’ll stay for the epic twist.
“We are the weavers. We are the shearers.
And you are the darning needle.”
If you think you know where this story is going to go, you’re going to be wrong. One of the things I love about this author, is that she gives you just enough detail to know what you may be getting into, but the ride she takes you on is never what is expected. This book has a paranormal/fantastical ghost story element, as well as a large mystery/thriller aspect that makes it almost disturbingly realistic. These are two genres of books I love, and Gillian French has meshed them together in a YA novel that makes me soul sing!
All I want to do now is find an abandoned house in the snow and discover its secrets.
Natalie is your typical sweet and caring sixteen-year-old girl who has a close relationship with her cousin Teddy. She works hard at her Aunts’ restaurant, follows rules, and is highly respectful and just good-natured. Teddy is very smart and shy, and would most easily be described as a quiet brainiac type. The relationship between Teddy and is cousin is immensely pure and portrays so much loyalty and affection, I was almost weeping of jealousy for not having a Teddy of my own to watch my back! Together the two begin entering the house with a tape recorder to see if they can catch voices of ghosts or spirits within the house. As they do, Natalie begins to experience flashbacks into moments of history inside the home and on the property.
As this story-line unfolds, another one begins to unravel as the reader continues. It explains the events that took place before Natalie moved away, and basically why she moved in the first place. More characters are introduced from that time as well, and a few of them are of the unsavory sort. I don’t want to go into any detail about them though, because that will give away some of the secrets involved in this AMAZING mystery. Just know that things get dark real fast and you’re going to need a safety blanket and a nice cup of tea to hide behind.
The way that these two story-lines reveal themselves turned out to be something I really enjoyed. There wasn’t a lot of boring moments between the “good stuff” happening, because everything was a hint towards what was eventually going to be unmasked. I was not expecting the nightmares and the house to go in the direction it did, but I am so impressed with the creative way it was orchestrated. It was such a quick read because I needed to know what was going to happen, and honestly, I could do with at least 3 more books following Natalie and Teddy.
All in all, this is a chilling tale that I highly recommend for readers who are looking for another Wintery tale to end the year with, or to go into 2020 with. Of course, please be aware that this book does get dark and touches on some serious issues that may be sensitive to some readers – but nothing too graphic, it is YA after all. If you’re looking for a tale that will make you shiver, read this!