The Children’s Book Review | July 13, 2016
Written by E.K. Johnston
Hardcover: 304 pages
Age Range: 14-18
Publisher: Hyperion (2015)
What to expect: Legends, Magic, Fantasy, Middle East culture
A bold, feminist retelling of the classic Middle Eastern tale A Thousand and One Nights, this book is a lyrical, evocative masterpiece.
Our unnamed protagonist opens the book by telling us that Lo-Melkhiin has murdered 300 wives before arriving at her village for a new bride. The narrator is a young woman, the daughter of a powerful trader in the arid fictional desert not unlike a historical Middle East. The narrator loves her half sister more than anything, and when it seems she will be chosen as Lo-Melkhiin’s new bride, she alters the game and makes herself the right choice instead.
Whisked away to a terrifyingly lonesome castle with no one to turn to, the narrator is terrified that each sunset will be her last. She is sure that Lo-Melkhiin is possessed by a desert demon, that if only she could find a way to cure him, all would be safe in the Kingdom. No new girls would have to die. Not even her.
Back home her sister is leading the women to make the protagonist a small-god, imbuing the protagonist with unseen power that the demon cannot understand. Combined with the protagonist’s own creative magic in dreams, in spinning wool, and in predicting the future, a desert storm of monstrous proportions is brewing. But can she save her Kingdom, and the true soul of her new husband, before it’s too late?
This is a phenomenal novel. Written in a literary tone with an ear for historical flair, Johnston weaves a story that captures the heart. Our unnamed narrator is a force of feminist power, and although she is unnamed and ‘but a woman’ in this paternalistic culture, she wields powerful magic, personal strength and nerve beyond measure. Readers will root for her from the beginning. She is quiet, but she is fierce.
Johnston pulls no punches – the novel isn’t predictable, but readers will be satisfied with the ending, which is exactly what I wanted. I couldn’t put it down. I was mesmerized! Johnston is a true master of storytelling. Readers will feel like they’re sitting by the fire, eating fragrant olives under a starry night sky.
Add this book to your collection: A Thousand Nights
About E. K. Johnston
E. K. Johnston is a forensic archaeologist by training, a book seller and author by trade, and a grammarian by nature. She spends a great deal of time on the Internet because it is less expensive than going to Scotland. She can probably tell you, to the instant, when she fell in love with any particular song; but don’t ask her, because then it will be stuck in both of your heads.
A Thousand Nights, by E.K. Johnston, was reviewed by Denise Mealy. Discover more books like A Thousand Nights by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with E.K. Johnston, Fantasy, Magic, Middle East, Myths & Legends, and Young Adult Fiction.
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