Series: A Thousand Nights #1
Published by Disney Hyperion
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.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this retelling of the classic A Thousand and One Nights. A Thousand Nights is an elegantly written novel that approaches the original tale with a unique spin.
As a lover of all things fantasy, fairy-tale and retellings of classics, I was quickly enamored by A Thousand Nights. However, be warned: nothing is explained thoroughly in this novel. But the lack of explanation works well within the story, the mystery becomes all encompassing and slowly, pushes you to finish it.
I loved that the characters did not have names (exception with Lo-Melkhiin, the only character with a name). Everyone else was “my sister’s husband’s father’s etc”, which ended up not being confusing to me. It worked to make the story even more mysterious and also question who really tells these tales in the first place? Often myth and fairy tales have no author, the author is simply “anonymous”.
Our unnamed heroine of the story was well written – incredibly brave and selfless, she sacrifices herself to save her sister from being party of Lo-Melkhiin’s body count, and never truly gives up hope that she will find a way out of this situation. She uses her wits and strength to make a future for herself and eventually find an answer to her problem.
Everything about this books is exquisite and elegant. The extremely slow pace seems to be the most off putting thing about this book but Johnston spends that time building the characters, the location and the plot up until the epic ending. If you like atmospheric, character-driven reads then yes this is the book for you. If you’d rather have action and fast pace drama – you may want to look elsewhere.