A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

Friday, October 09, 2015

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Pages: 336
Source: from publisher in exchange for honest review
Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
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. --Goodreads
Lo-Melkhiin is looking for a bride because he’s murdered his previous one and the wife before that and before that.  His tally of murdered brides is around three hundred.  It is rumored that once when King Lo-Melkhiin was hunting in the desert, he was hunted instead by a demon who sought power. He scours the villages for the bride and finds her.  She seems so different than the rest, a suitable match to fit a powerful king—a powerful demon.  As much as the classic—most seem to overlook—One Thousand and One Nights has always been enchanting, E.K. Johnston retells it in a gorgeous way with a supernatural twist.

E.K. Johnston created something profound, yet so simple.  Readers will be hooked from the start with its quick plot. Every night, when Lo-Melkhiin joined her—even knowing the original story—I worried for her safety in surviving the night.  Each morning, I would be holding my breath, wondering if she made it. 

Though intentional, the absence of names irked me.  Yes, readers are blessed with Lo-Melkhiin’s name but we are not given a name for our protagonist, nor anyone else.  Johnston’s intent can vary between readers: an emphasis on the villain, leaving creative thinking to the readers. 

The supernatural element was a surprise but interesting.  A Thousand Nights circles around her, our protagonist, but I wish Johnston had told us more of Lo-Melkhiin and his daily thoughts.  There was some change in perspective between chapters but not enough to quench my questions about this demon inside of him.

 The plot moved quickly, enchanting readers with original and unpredictable twists and turns.  It surely kept me on the edge of my seat.  However, the writing, most specifically the dialogue, was disappointing.  The story read like a winded monologue, as if someone was telling a tale which was both, distracting and fascinating.  When there was dialogue, the monologue continued but—since there was a lack of names—the characters, instead, addressed their titles.  For example, calling your sister “sister” is fine and realistic once but a bit annoying after the third or fourth consecutive sentence of “Yes, sister. I will do that, sister. You’re right, sister.”

Despite the writing, Johnston excelled in bringing the classic to life in a fresh way.  A Thousand Nights forces readers to want another thousand nights, wondering what happens after the end.  

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