Hey! Since my epic failure of trying to read more than one book at a time, I’ve finished one of them – A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston. My friend read this for our high school’s book club and said it was really good, so I decided to give it a go this month.
Here’s what the description is:
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.
This wasn’t what I expected – in a good way 🙂 i have not read the original A Thousand and One Nights but I do love retellings.
The interesting part of the story was that our narrator remains nameless (for the most part) the entire book. I don’t know what to call her, so she’ll just be “the narrator.” Obviously her not having a name served a purpose. I think it was to show the different culture that she lived with than ours. It was a traditional patriarchal society, and while the women were subordinate to the men, they did have a certain strength and verve I admired throughout the book.
Lo-Melkhiin is a character that kind of grows on you. I’m still not sure how I feel about him. On one hand, the Lo-Melkhiin is someone what isn’t himself the whole book. The way he acts toward the narrator and his general behavior is something that you start to understand the more you delve into the book. The feminist in me just can’t seem to get over the society that the characters live in. However, it is neat to see what a society like that would be like – comparatively of course.
There’s an element of magic within the book that I liked. The narrator finds a certain power within her. While it is a real kind of magic, it is a kind of strength and resilience that I love. I love how her character develops. Her sister is wonderful, too. Instead of mourning the narrator, the sister works to help her from her home. The fantastical quality is that both sisters bring to the book is excellent.
My Goodreads rating was 4/5 stars. Definitely would recommend this!