A Thousand Nights – E.K. Johnston
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.
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Thank you to Cuddlebuggery and their Little Blogger, Big Ambition project and Shelly at Read.Sleep.Repeat for sending me the arc! Cuddlebuggery is one of my favourite YA book blogs and, having briefly chatted with her on Twitter, Shelly seems like a total sweetheart (I swear they didn’t pay me to say this).
I’ve seen a lot of reviews comparing this book to The Wrath and the Dawn, but, since I haven’t read The Wrath and the Dawn yet (I know, what am I waiting for?), I figured I’d go into it without any preconceived notions.
Unfortunately, I read this book in between Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight which was silly of me, because Laini Taylor left me on such a book-high, very few things could have compared to it. So the timing was poor on my part, but I also just couldn’t get into this story.
What I liked:
-the writing. It had the right tone for the story – nothing modern or jarring, it was poetic and lovely and there were some nice descriptions.
-I LOVE that the strongest relationship in the book was between two sisters. As someone who is exceptionally close to her sisters myself, I could relate to that feeling of wanting to protect your older siblings because you can’t stand to see them hurt.
-there were some chapters from the demon-spirit-thing’s point of view, which was cool and added a touch of darkness, but the typeface killed my eyes and made it hard to focus. But maybe I’m just old, I don’t know.
-I appreciate some good old magical realism every now and then.
What I didn’t like:
-I understood that she was Doing a Thing by having the majority of her characters remain nameless, but it felt awkward, especially when the sisters were talking to each other. It was also quite cumbersome to refer to older relatives as her “father’s father’s father”, but I suppose it’s more traditional?
-I’m still not entirely sure how she saved the day. And since there was no romance, I really didn’t understand her decision at the end.
-my biggest problem: where were the stories? I’m not an expert on the tales of Scheherazade or anything, but I expected some stories. Legends or myths or straight-up nonsense – not brief snippets of conversation, usually revolving around her sister (not that there’s anything wrong with telling stories about your siblings, I do it all the time!). I did like that certain things she said seemed to come true, but since it wasn’t saving her life, it was a little bit of a letdown.
Overall, I just couldn’t get into it. There were a lot of pages, but it didn’t seem like much was happening, and I felt like it took me a lot longer to read than it should have. I’m sure there are people who will appreciate the more meandering pace of the novel. Also, the lack of romance was both refreshing and disappointing, and I’m not sure how I feel yet.
That being said, I’m really interested in E.K. Johnston’s forthcoming novel, Exit, Pursued By a Bear, and I’ll probably give that a chance since I liked her writing style.