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A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston: A Book Review

A Thousand Nights
Author: E. K. Johnston
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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

     My Review: A Thousand Nights is a loose retelling of Scheherazade, the storyteller of Arabian Nights. In this tale, a king has been possessed by a demon. He has killed his wives on their wedding night or within a month of their marriage. The unnamed protagonist knows that her sister will be the king’s next chosen bride because she is very beautiful. To save her sister from being killed, she decides to take her sister’s place. She survives her wedding by telling stories to the king. As she spins her tale, she realizes that she is getting a magical power. With her power, she may be able to defeat the king’s demon and to bring back the man he once was.

     The protagonist reminds me a lot of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. She dreams of marrying for love and to be happy with her sister. Yet, she is willing to sacrifice her happiness and her life to save her sister. I found her to be strong, independant, and confident. She knows how to survive. She is also bold, fierce, and courageous. She is a perfect heroine that can save herself and everyone she loves.

     Overall, this book is about family, friendship, love, courage, and redemption. The message of the book is that there is always hope. The story is beautifully-written, evocative, vivid, and lyrical. It is told in first person from the main character. Yet there are some scenes where the main villain gets his chapter. I thought that the world of A Thousand Nights was well-built. This novel also had fascinating and complex characters. I am looking forward to reading more works by this author. A Thousand Nights is a magical novel that will leave you breathless and will linger even after you read the last page. Read it, and you will be mesmerized by its world and its protagonist. I recommend this book to anyone who likes strong, intelligent heroines, fairy tales, and selfless sacrifice.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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