Title: A Thousand Nights
Author: E.K. Johnston
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Book Depository.
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 was a wonderful, magical retelling of A Thousand and One Nights filled with stories and tales of the desert and far away lands, and rich culture, with settings from desert camps to opulent, expansive palaces, all packed within one story, with one main character who inspires and creates stories in order to survive.
Our main character knows that Lo-Melkhiin -the king who murders his wives- is coming to her desert village, and that he will want a new wife. And she knows that he will want to take the most beautiful of them – her sister. So, she devises a plan to save her sister, and offers herself up to Lo-Melkhiin by taking the attention away from her sister. And so, she is taken away to marry the king, and she is forced to begin her plan- to fight to stay alive, night after night.
The most unique thing about this book, something that surprised me, that I had never seen before, was that no one besides Lo-Melkhiin, is ever given a name. The main character is called a lot of things – Daughter, Wife, Queen – yet we do not learn her true name. I thought that this might bother me to begin with, but it didn’t. I was still invested with this character’s story and although there is a power in names, and that is taken away from her, what she does to save herself and her sister, despite knowing the consequences, and her intelligence and courage alone show her to be incredibly strong, stronger and more powerful than her people would imagine.
The writing in this book can only be described as exquisite. It is tense and magical and beautiful. I loved that we got some small insights into Lo-Melkhiin’s mind, and what exactly is is that he wants from the main character and her newfound power over stories.
There is no romance in this book, which I found slightly disappointing, but at the same time, I feel like had there been some romance, then it wouldn’t have been believable. I liked how focused the MC was on her task: to keep herself and her sister alive, and to stop Lo-Melkhiin from murdering any more innocent women. Despite there being a lack of romantic love, the MC holds plenty of love for her family, especially her beautiful sister, her mother and her sister’s mother, and I loved how it focused more on the bonds between family.
A Thousand Nights was a magical re-imagining, one that will stay with me for quite a while. ★★★★☆