I just love a good clean story full of fantastical elements and hints of romance. A Thousand Nights is that book! It is full of elements I love and contains an heir of mystery, keeping me interested to the very last page.
I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
Published by Disney Press on 2015-10-06
Length: 336 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.
And so she is taken in her sister's place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin's court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.
Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.
Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston is a loose retelling of the classic short 1001 Nights. In short…I LOVED IT! The prose, the imagery, the characters…I loved it all! Johnston does something few authors can do. She painted a picture with her words. The entire book from the first word to the last painted scene after scene leaving me content to live in her world just a little longer.
The narrator of our story is never given a name, which at first I found odd but it grew on me. She is young, brave, cunning and selfless as she gives herself to Lo-Melkhiin in her sister’s place. Let me give you a short synopsis for those that don’t know the original story. Lo-Melkhiin is known for killing his brides, few last more than one night in the palace. In this version of the story, Lo-Melkhiin is bound by law to take only one girl from each village, hence the reason our narrator takes her sister’s place. As I said she is very brave. Each night she is in the palace, she challenges herself to believe she will live to see the morning by giving herself something to do or see. I found this inspiring as she takes on this lord really by herself.
Lo-Melkhiin makes a great antagonist AND love interest. Yep that’s right he fits the bill for both. He’s ruthless, cunning, cruel and very intrigued by the narrator. Each night he comes to her and asks for a story about her sister, their small gods, or her family. And each night he leaves her in peace, alive.
The plot really centers around a rumor mentioned very early in the book that Lo-Melkhiin as a young man was possessed by a demon. This demon supposedly is why the kingdom thrives and his wives die. The narrator decides that it is her job to live so no more will die. The question really becomes how.
As I already mentioned, E.K. Johnston does a fabulous job of building a world around the narrator and side characters. It was fascinating to delve deeper into it, learning about their culture and how Lo-Melkhiin was to be defeated. I loved the narrator and her tenacity for survival. She isn’t afraid of Lo-Melkhiin which I think ultimately is why he was so fond of her.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. The only reason it gets 4 instead of 5 stars is that the beginning was slow to start. There were a lot of details, but once those were out of the way, the story flowed well and the narrator sped things along. I will warn you though that Lo-Melkhiin is one of two characters that get a name in the entire book. That’s right only two characters have names. Everyone else is “my sister’s mother” or “mother of my heart.” This can get a bit confusing when dealing with more than one at a time, but the secondary characters have such unique personalities that it doesn’t take long to decipher who is who. If you enjoy young adult fiction, fantasy, or you’re a lover of Arabian Nights, than this is the book for you!