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

Title: A Thousand Nights

Author: E. K. Johnston

Publication Date: October 6th, 2015

Format: ARC

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.

five stars

**I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much! This doesn’t affect the review in any way. My opinions, as always, are my own.**

I seriously can’t believe that Disney Hyperion accepted my request. I had requested both A Thousand Nights and Spinning Starlight back when I had first made my blog (mid May 2015, or so), without even noticing who the publishing house was. Then, later on, when I began to understand all the shebang of the book industry, I gave up all the hope of them accepting me. Disney Hyperion? The publishing house of my beloved Percy Jackson? Accepting to send me ARCs? Forget it.

Time went by and I got neither a rejection nor an acceptance. Then I went back home for the summer vacation. One day I had the rare privilege of having an internet connection, so I logged in to check my emails and discovered that they had accepted not only one, but both requests!! I literally screamed. My cousins thought I was crazy but. I. Didn’t. Care. THEY HAD ACCEPTED MY REQUESTS HOLY SHIT THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. IT MEANS THE WORLD TO ME. EEEEEEP!

#takeadeepbreathjinan

okay okay now on to the review

P.S. I tried to keep things a bit vague without delving too much into the plot as to not spoil anything for those who haven’t read the book yet.

Thoughts

If you’ve been around here for some time, then you probably know how important the prose of a book is to me. I like reading books with unique wordings. I like reading beautiful writings with flowery sentences and descriptions. That’s probably why I love the Shatter Me series so much. E.K Johnston is really skilled with spinning words into wonderful worlds and I enjoyed reading every single paragraph.

The world building was spectacular. It was solid, not shaky in the slightest, mysterious, mystical, and pulsed with magic. I loved the whole Arabian thing that was going on. The wadi, the dishdashahs, the veils, the incense, the dancing. There is massive cultural diversity here, compared to your regular set-in-america novel.

The whole cast was nameless. Yes, you read that right. We don’t know the mc’s name, nor her sister’s, or her mother’s. Pretty much the only name we knew was Lo-Melkhiin. That made the story feel more like a legend. Like something that would be whispered around the fire. But most importantly, it made it feel like a story that had been passed down through generations for a really long time that the names were forgotten, while the great deeds remained. The story itself has probably changed with each narration; people filling it with their hopes and dreams and what we got in the end is a story that has a little bit of every person who once upon a time told the story. Just like your typical retelling. That is beautiful, if you think about it.

Character Analysis

Main character

She was strong, smart, and brave. She loved her sister so much that when Lo-Melkhiin came to choose his bride she stood directly in front of her sister to block his view of her even though she knew that if she were chosen she’s gong to end up dead like the three hundred girls before her. The devotion she had for her sister was infinite and even though her sister loved her back with equal vigor and loyalty, I felt that the main character was sorta the lesser girl. Her sister was more beautiful, and could speak in honeyed words, and therefore the caravan thought more highly of her. The main character was just…there.

But by the end of the book and after everything that had happened with Lo-Melkhiin, she was no longer defined by her sister. She was no longer her sister’s shadow. No longer the lesser girl. Her bravery and her courage had increased tenfold. She was ready to sacrifice herself again to protect those that she loved.

And I walked into the desert alone, to meet my husband, where he rode with my doom behind him at last.

I respected her for this. Because true power is knowing when to stop fighting. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to stop him if he attacked her family, so she yielded. And that was the most noble thing of all.

She was a queen and I wish I knew her name.

Lo-Melkhiin

I’ve been waiting for this. Let’s dissect Lo-Melkhiin!

Okay. So. I don’t know if others felt this way, but I couldn’t hate him. He was, without a doubt, my favorite character. I loved him even though he had killed all those girls. I guess it’s because I knew that that wasn’t the real him. The real, gentle, and kindhearted Lo-Melkhiin still existed in his body and he was rooting for our main character all along.

The demon in him reminded me of the Eidolons in the Heroes of Olympus series. He was super creepy, and shitty evil. But, with the main character he was so charming. And I kept on imagining that it was the good Lo-Melkhiin who was talking and calling the main character all those swoonworthy nicknames and idk what

“Star of my skies, you take my breath from my body,” he said to me, and held out his arm.

I was seriously confused. Like am I attracted to a murderer???????? I don’t know what this says about me. I really don’t.

This is getting really uncomfortable.

Moving along.

As for the demon himself, I think he loved the main character, in his own creepy, twisted way.

She was not of my kind, yet there was some power to her that was not human, not quite. She did not die, and I wondered if I might at last have found a queen for whom I could set the desert on fire.

Maybe it was because of her power? Like, he’s the type who gets turned on by that sort of thing? I wouldn’t put it too far off him.

Seeing him lust after her made me feel icky. I just wanted him gone so that the real Lo-Melkhiin could be with the main character. And I know that the real Lo-Melkhiin will come to love her, if he wasn’t halfway along that road already.

Lo-Melkhiin’s mother

Eeeeeeeh. This lady is Matchmaker #1. She shipped Lo-Melkhiin and the main character so much I think she wanted to build a whole goddamn fleet. However, she also understood that her son was possessed. And that he wasn’t the good boy from before. God. It must have been so hard on her, seeing him like this.

“I will pray,” she said to me. “Not to the smallgods of my own family, as I have done before. They are far from here, near the blue desert, and maybe they are too busy with the blue desert’s troubles to hear me. I will pray to the smallgod who sits in my tent, and who is married to my son.”

She was an integral part of the story because she pushed the main character to help him. Because she knew that she could do it.

“Daughter of my heart,” she said to me. “You have been fighting a war since you decided to take your sister’s place. Only keep fighting it now, and we shall see who stands at the enddemons or smallgods.”

and she was victorious in the end.

Bottom Line

This story was a delight to read and this review was a delight to write and I want to reread this book a million times over.

Recommended to: To those who want an antagonist whom they can’t hate for some reason and lovers of mystic settings and great world building.

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