Review: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston


Rating: 3 1/2 Stars


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.

Note: I received an eARC of A Thousand Nights in exchange for an honest review.

[This Book in One Sentence: Arabian legend comes to life as a murderous ruler marries a girl who holds the faith of her village and a talent for stories that might save herself, his soul, and their kingdom.]

First of all, both cover editions are stunningly beautiful. When I saw A Thousand Nights on NetGalley, I was mesmerized by the description and cover illustration!

The summary itself is fascinating. The tale of this young bride, brave and unyielding, has been told more than a thousand times in more than a thousand ways.

Does this novel measure up? Does it break through barriers and bring a special light to the legend?

Well, kind of.

I enjoyed A Thousand Nights, but the book didn’t really break any new ground, though it did contain unprecedented deepness for the Young Adult genre. Personally, I thought it was just O.K. It’s nothing to fangirl about, and nothing to mercilessly hate on either. This work could bring a small smile to your face if you’ve run out of other books to read.

I did enjoy several of the themes. Sisterly love has a huge presence. Can we get some more of that, authors?? Also, the struggle between powers that are polar opposites (hope and despair; darkness and light) is featured. These adversarial powers are akin to ancient gods and ghostly monsters, borne of the desert legends that are responsible for this book. They bring a deep spirituality to the forefront of A Thousand Nights.

In addition, I appreciated the inclusion of spinning trances. For time immemorial, tales about trances experienced during spinning have been told, from the court of King Arthur to the Arabian courts. I think that the trances were written in an intriguing way.

Overall: A quick read with a few heavy themes alongside a simplistic writing style. Not beautiful, but certainly pretty.

I’d recommend A Thousand Nights to fans of Arabian legends. If you just love fairytale retellings in general, then maybe you would also enjoy this.

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