Author: E.K Johnston
Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for this ARC!
I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I requested A Thousand Nights. I knew it was a retelling of ‘A Thousand and One Nights’, which is a story I admit, I haven’t read too many retellings of. What I loved about this novel was the prose and that is truly what sucked me in from the get go.
Everything about E.K Johnston’s writing comes across slow, methodical, and precise. No one other than Lo-Melkhiin has a name, There’s a real subtle mystery behind that, and yet I was still able to oddly keep track of the various characters in the story. I was intrigued throughout why Johnston did this. I really enjoyed how the narrative was told, especially because we are getting the perspective from a storyteller who is reaccounting her story, and I loved that about this novel. There’s always this bit of me that kept asking if the story was true, embellished, or a bit of both, and yet I didn’t care at the same time. I wanted to see and know what was happening in this world, and I loved the way in which the narrator paints a lot of the story.
There’s a lot to keep you guessing in this story. There’s various perspective changes on Lo-Melkhiin, there’s political intrigue and strife, a war on the verge of outbreak, and family woes that are in need of repair, and it just keeps you going. This book isn’t fast-paced in the slightest, and I think people will hold that against it, but I don’t think slow and thoughtful books are necessarily a bad thing, especially if they are building to an excellent climax, which A Thousand Nights
certain does. Do parts drag a bit? Yes, but again, there’s this thoughtful building that just kept me reading. Even if these characters didn’t have names, I still felt connected to them.
I feel like E.K Johnston’s book is going to go under the radar due to another huge ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ retelling, and I do feel that is unfair. The books couldn’t be any more different! But I feel like this one, although a bit more literary in tone, has a lot to offer those who are patience readers and those who love to try and put puzzles together. There’s so much mystery and intrigue here, topped with Johnston’s gorgeous writing. I definitely recommend A Thousand Nights, but be patient with it, as it doesn’t reveal it’s hand right away.