Ages 14 and up 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.
A Thousand Nights is filled with magic and Arabic desert mysticism that is very ancient and yet modern. That premise comprises both its positive and negative aspects for me.
I base my reviews upon my faith and personal feelings for a story. It is not possible to separate my Christian worldview from my feelings. Of course this book was not written to be a Christian book at all so my worldview is really unrelated; I just want to provide a cautionary voice for those Christians who are concerned about what their children read.
A Thousand Nights is a feminist book and is based upon a pagan religion. It contains magic that is less of the more benign fantasy variety; along the lines of C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia series. Rather it falls into the supernatural, mystical category; think The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. End of cautionary tale...
A Thousand Nights reads like a verbal history of a people group that has been passed along year after year, decade after decade, century after century. It has the cadence of a story well-worn from long telling. It is the type of story that makes you long for a perfect evening under the stars, warmed by a flickering fire, while the best of storytellers dramatically presents it to you. It is packed with imagery and the experiences related become almost tactile due to the descriptions that are done so well.
Be discerning in regards to your children but this is a great read.
I received an advanced reader copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. My thanks to the author and publisher.
E.K. Johnston had several jobs and one vocation before she became a published writer. If she's learned anything, it's that things turn out weird sometimes, and there's not a lot you can do about it. Well, that and how to muscle through awkward fanfic because it's about a pairing she likes.
When she's not on tumblr, she dreams of travel and Tolkien. Or writes books. It really depends on the weather.