Thank you very much Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Title: A Thousand Nights
Author: E.K Johnston
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: 22nd October 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
The Most Dangerous Love Story Ever Told.
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife.
When Lo-Melkhiin- a formidable king- arrives at her desert home, she knows he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice- leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man.
But it seems strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic, powerful enough to save a king… If only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.
Set against a harsh desert backdrop, A Thousand Nights by E.K Johnston is an evocative tale of love, mystery and magic that would not feel out of place if Scheherazade herself were telling it.
And perhaps she is…
Okay, overall I absolutely loved this story. I thought the plot was detailed and imaginative and at times, really unpredictable. I think the plot was one of my favourite parts about the book as a whole.
When I first picked up this book, I was initially afraid that’s there wasn’t much room to roam around in in terms of storyline- but E.K Johnston took the story in a direction that I did not even think was possible and that opened up the potential for so much more. As the story progressed, I discovered more and more about the characters and was able to piece together certain parts of the story without being blatantly told. This gave me a sense of accomplishment and made the story all the more enjoyable.
In terms of pacing, I found that, at the beginning at least, the story was a bit slow and dragged on a little. This meant that I had to re-read previous paragraphs or even whole chapters to gain a better insight to the story until the 100-page mark. As soon as I reached the 100-page mark, I was flying through the story so fast simply because I then understood what was going on and found the turn of events to be so gripping- I needed to know what was going on!!!
E.K Johnston has been so clever with her characters that it adds an element of mystery to the whole book. There is only one named character in the whole book- Lo-Melkhiin. Others may have names that were given to them by the king, but we never find out their true names- letting us think that Lo-Melkhiin scarred them so much, they simply forgot. The lead figure herself had no name, she is supposedly meant to be a Scheherazade figure or perhaps even Scheherazade herself. This was such a clever thing to do because it has given me a whole new view on One Thousand and One Nights. The Scheherazade figure was so relatable in that she was only doing what was right to protect the people she loved- not so she could die a small God, which is so often seen in young adult fiction now. Her motives and actions were exactly what I, myself, would have done and, to me, that just made the story all the more interesting.
I loved the elements of magic and demons in this book. I loved the way the demons were portrayed and the way that they had their own narration so that we really understood what reasoning they had for doing what they do. The magic the main narrator herself possesses is described so clearly that it made me want to have that magic too and those amazing abilities. I really appreciated the difficulty it took her to come into her power and the speed at which it developed made it seem all the more powerful.
In a nutshell, I really, really enjoyed this book- I found the plot line to be unpredictable and gripping, the characters to be relatable and loveable and the world to be detailed and beautiful (particularly the qasr) and this is why it deserved the 4 stars that it got. The only thing that let it down for me was the pacing although it definitely picked up as the story progressed.
Just before I read this book, I went on a week long orchestra course (explaining my absence) where I fittingly played the music Scheherazade, based on the book One Thousand and One Nights. This really got me into the mood to read this book so I really recommend giving it a listen before diving into this book or any other based off One Thousand and One Nights.