A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston (Review)

A Thousand NightsA Thousand Nights
by E. K. Johnston
YA Urban Fantasy
Hardcover, paperback, & ebook, 336 pages
October 6th 2015 by Disney Hyperion
Summary

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. 

   
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My Review

A THOUSAND NIGHTS immerses the reader in this storybook world of desert, camels, head-covered women, myth, and the ancient culture of the Middle Bronze Age. It was all interesting and so full of imagery that I was engaged from the first to the last page. It helped that there was a ruthless and sly villain, a strong and selfless heroine, and an interesting plot as well. I loved that this was a fabulous rendition of the original story based on Scheherazade and The Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One Nights (there are many versions), but that it really stood on its own.

Lo-Melkhiin. He is a force to be reckoned with. I really loved how he was a conflicted character and one that the heroine was able to discern after a time. His story was interesting. He is not one to do something without it profiting him and his new common wife is a curiosity and also someone he sees who can benefit him. Lady-bless. It's the name that is most used for her besides sister, wife, and Al-ammiyyah. My favorite name for her is what Lo-Melkhiin calls her a few times: Star of my skies. She is brave. She is also wise and kind. She is fierce when she needs to be and she becomes the only power that might be able to save her people and stop Lo-Melkhiin's reign.

The pace of the plot was steady. The story starts off with some intensity as Lo-Melkhiin comes to take his wife and they travel back to his home where she doesn't know if she'll survive the night. It then relaxes more as she gets used to her new home, but there is a constant underlying tension that continues to grow as the story reaches it climax towards the end. The culture (feels very Persian) seeps through the pages with how it is written and with the stories that are told. 

There really wasn't any romance per se, which I was fine with. I've seen some remarks about the romance that I wanted to shed some light on. [Highlight to see spoiler:] She saves him because she had caught glimpses of what he was before from what his mother had shared, then when she healed him, and a few other times. She could tell that the man was still there. It was interesting that the demon would also keep his body in an almost ageless state as well, so when he was released, he could still be a good ruler and husband. She also saw what could happen if his city was left without a leader.

A THOUSAND NIGHTS is a great read for those who enjoy stories full of ethnicity, culture, strong heroines, and some magic. It was a truly beautiful, but also cruel story. I'm looking forward to seeing what this author writes next.

Content: Some innuendo and violence, but otherwise clean.

Source: I would like to thank Disney Hyperion for my complementary ARC, which did not affect my review in any way.


If you want to find out a little bit more about the backstory and characters, check out the author's guest post here.

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