Wednesday, 12 August 2015

A Thousand Nights - Book Review


A Thousand Nights
E.K. Johnston
YA Fantasy Retelling
UK Publisher: Macmillan Childrens Books

Synopsis:

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 sisters place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous place 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 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 subtle unseen magick, and something besides death stirs in 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 a bigger, more terrible magic, power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

Review:

A wonderful re-telling of the classic tale, A Thousand and one nights. This book comes with unique (and cleverly nameless) characters, and has some interesting twists and turns of its own. A really nice read.

When the king, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her village searching for his next wife, she will do anything to protect her beloved sister. Even go willingly into the arms of death, for surely that is the fate that awaits her. For hundreds of brides have died by the King’s hand, but as the night ends and the sun rises each morning, She begins to hope that just maybe, she can survive the demon calling himself her husband.

For as she soon discovers, she has powers of her own, and now the fate of the kingdom, and its King, is in her hands…

It took a few chapters for me to get into this book, but once I found the main characters rhythm I soon sunk into the story. Everything is beautifully written and unfolds at a slow pace, allowing you time to enjoy the backstory and the main characters own woven tales that she uses to keep the king enraptured. It’s is definitely a story to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace!

The writing itself is vivid with its imagery. Appealing to all your senses, the descriptions are full of smells, sounds, tastes and  the soft feel of silk beneath your hands. Huge points for the world building. 

This book however will definitely appeal to women, since the story itself is full of subtle female power, the wit to survive, the power obtained from the love and devotion of family. The respect gained from lessons learned from young and old alike. 

Also I mentioned earlier, many of the characters, including our protagonist, have no name. This is cleverly done and took me awhile to notice, since most characters have labels such as Sister, Sister’s mother, Beloved Daughter ect. This I think definitely adds a good twist to the writing and in my mind, adds an old worldly feel to the story.

In terms of plot, the book is very slow going, not picking up in action until the end. There is no romance and the main character is often limited in her thoughts and reactions due to the suppressing nature of her culture and having grown up a woman. However, I believe the enjoyment of this story comes from the lessons learned by the main character. 

It is mostly a story showing her bravery and courage, not through physical feats but through kindness and words, as each night she survives the palace, is a day she has become a little wiser. 

Overall a thought provoking, magically woven tale. I’m intrigued to see what else the author will produce. I give A Thousand Nights  4 stars!

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