"A children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last." --C.S. Lewis
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Source: ARC (BEA)
Published by: Disney-Hyperion
This is a SUPER early review, but that's meant to encourage anyone who has an ARC to read and review it and pre-order along with those who don't have one, and/or spread the word. Also, there will be no spoilers.
A Thousand Nights - E.K. Johnston | Goodreads
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.
This is the book to read if you want a Middle Eastern inspired fantasy. I confess: most of the time, Middle Eastern inspired work catches my eye, but I avoid reading it because I get overly critical. It's easier for me to feel like an American writing about the Middle East - well, while reading, I feel *that*; that, very rarely, do I get the sense that the culture is authentic and captures the Middle Eastern spirit well. I am not Middle Eastern, but all my relatives are, and I have grown up surrounded by this culture and wishing for it to be better portrayed. Also, I tend to avoid 1001 Nights retellings because if they are a romance, they often will romanticize the piece of shit king who's killing girls (often it's because of a curse, you see, the king is not a flawed douche, he only does what he does because he's forced to - a framework which not only romanticizes what happened but in blaming any flaws he might have on a "curse," also makes him a much less interesting character) and because of the inherent sexism of the framework (not only the killing girls but also feeding into the whole "Scheherazade is the *only* girl who could captivate the king;" she's not like the "other" girls who were too stupid and got killed). Another thing: most Middle Eastern mythology and folklore have a religious background. There's no avoiding references to God and the like, and yet many retellings do not get into the religious aspect (how can you be authentic to the Middle East if you don't get into the HUGE part religion has played? Yes, there are Middle Eastern atheists, but for the most part, religion is a HUGE part of every day life and has been for a LONG time) because that's a sticky issue and oh well.
This book addresses ALL OF THAT and more: stories have a power larger than life in A Thousand Nights. E.K. Johnston has written a retelling that is faithful to its original material but also something entirely of her own making.
The awesomeness of A Thousand Nights: