A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
Series: A Thousand Nights
Published October 6th 2015 by Disney Hyperion
Genre: fantasy, retelling, young adult
Overall ratings: 4/5★
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.
E.K. Johnston is an incredible storyteller, she created the Arabian world aptly with her writing. A Thousand Nights is written in first person point of view which I originally felt awkward about but loved in the end. As I’m reading, it felt like I was the main character herself. All her fears, love, discomfort and power could be felt so vividly.
A Thousand Nights is paced slowly but it creates such magic and wonder. It took time to develop the world without it being boring or overbearing. A Thousand Nights isn’t a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, instead E.K. Johnston took inspiration from it and spin it into another tale.
The main character is such an extraordinary woman and she’s also nameless. Her love for her sister made her brave and powerful. Her will and power to make sure her sister doesn’t end up in the same plight as the other 300 women was impressive and touching.
I found it weird that throughout the book it was “mother’s mother’s mother” or a certain soldier, weaver, henna mistress initially. Nobody had a name except for Lo-Melkhiin and Firh Stonetouched. Ultimately, I found that not knowing the person’s name doesn’t diminish their presence and their role in the book.
If you come thinking the book is heavily based on romance, you are extremely wrong. There is barely any romance between the girl and Lo-Melkhiin, she’s basically cringing inside every time she’s within his line of sight.
Let me know what you think about A Thousand Nights!
“If I could find something to hold on to, then it would be the sound of hope.”