Review: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

A Thousand Nights

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

Published October 6th 2015 by Disney Hyperion.

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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. (Goodreads)

Another beautiful cover! It’s honestly more breath-taking in person. My first dabble in One Thousand and One Nights retellings was of course, The Wrath and the Dawn. That story blew me away. When I saw Emma review A Thousand Nights she had very little good things to say but I entered the giveaway anyway and I just so happen to have won. I am happy that I took a rather long break before picking up and reading this one though. I think if I would have read it after reading The Wrath and the Dawn I would have compared the two. And that’s simply not fair. I believe A Thousand Nights has it’s own story to tell and it is quite different than I expected it to be.

I should probably start by saying I have never read the original. However, after reading two retellings I am beginning to wonder what the original is like. So what is A Thousand Nights like? Nothing I have ever read before. We’re thrust back into the desert world where a king takes a new bride from a new village each time he kills his previous bride. On this occasion the king, Lo-Melkhiin is picking his suitor from the main unnamed protagonist’s village. She knows that her sister is most likely going to be chosen as she is very beautiful and coveted. She devises a plan to trick the king into choosing her and so it is done. As the story is known this new bride lives through the night. As she settles into her new life as much as possible she puts on a brave face for the king and the others in the palace. Her plan is to blend in. She wants to learn something she can use against the king. There’s also a magical element that was very interesting and added to the cinematic effect.

I’ll be honest and say it took me a few chapters to figure out what was going on and even a few chapters more to solidify ok yes, I knew what was going on. But the story is very different than the other retelling I have read and it was interesting to see where the story was going to go. This version also had quite a bit of cultural bits. Sometimes they were quite graphic. Think sand storms stripping the flesh from a camel, or….ok I will spare you the details. It’s safe to say I was grossed out a few times. I still think this one is worth a read if you like the story of One Thousand and One Nights. I rated A Thousand Nights 3 stars.

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