A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston is a fantasy re-telling of Arabian Nights: Tales from One Thousand and One Nights. Lo-Melkhiin has murdered three hundred girls before he came to the heroine’s village.
The heroine is nameless in the synopsis since the author did not want to reveal the sister that would be taken. Le-Melkhiin is looking for a wife; the heroine knows he will take the loveliest girl in the village, her sister. She will not let that happen and will sacrifice herself if that means saving her sister. Every girl that has been taken before has been murdered, and the heroine knows she is next. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is filled with dangerous, pretty things. However, when the first sun rises and sets, she realizes she is not dead yet. Lo-Melkhiin comes to her every night and listens to the stories she tells. As she is exploring the palace, she discovers a secret: Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Back in her village, her sister is mourning for her. But with each tale the heroine tells, her power grows. She dreams of a bigger, more powerful magic that is enough to save a king, and one that can put an end to the rule of a monster.
This novel is quite meandering, dense, but still satisfying. The first half is excruciatingly slow and the story only picks up much later. It is, however, worth the wait. This book somewhat reminded me of two similar works that have been published before, Uprooted and The Wrath and The Dawn, but eventually the plot of A Thousand Nights veered off in a different direction. Almost everyone in the novel remains nameless except for Lo-Melkhiin. The story revolves more around the nameless heroine and an anonymous creature that I was eager to learn more about. I found this creature quite fascinating and “it” was probably my favorite character in the novel.
This particular retelling is less sexist than the original. It’s a magical read and the love that the heroine had for her sister is wonderful to read about. In many young adult novels, sister rivalry and competition between girls is heavily emphasized, however, with our heroine, it was more about love and devotion. It was also quite nice to see characters that were ethnically diverse.
Benish Khan has her B.A in Psychology and Religion from the University of New York. She’s a psychologist and artist by day, and a bookworm by night. She currently blogs at feministreflections.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Disney Hyperion. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.