Review: A Thousand Nights

Posted June 28, 2016

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Thousand Nights A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston
Published by Macmillan Children's Books on 30th June 2016 (Paperback)
Genres: YA, Retellings
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife. When Lo-Melkhiin - a formidable king - arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice - leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man. But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king ...if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster. Set against a harsh desert backdrop, A Thousand Nights by E K Johnston is an evocative tale of love, mystery and magic that would not feel out of place if Scheherazade herself were telling it. And perhaps she is...

A Thousand Nights is a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights, and it’s the first of its kind that I’ve read, so there will be no comparison with other such retellings currently on the market. What I can say though, is that while I enjoyed this book well enough, I wasn’t crazy about it. I wanted more from it I think.

Johnston is herself a forensic archaeologist. She has travelled extensively and draws upon these experiences as well as her studying as inspiration. I really liked that about this book; you can feel her first hand experience of the desert in these pages.

Much like the traditional story, it is the telling of stories that keeps the King’s wife alive. Where her predecessors were murdered during the night, the King’s new wife has discovered a way to keep herself alive – her fearless storytelling. She also uncovers a hidden power that will allow her to face down the daemon residing within the King.

While I can appreciate the storytelling in this book, I found it hard work at times. In all honesty, I’m not very familiar¬†with many of the traditional tales that are entwined within One Thousand and One Nights. So perhaps it’s my own ignorance that’s the reason I wasn’t captivated by this book? Perhaps I would have been more absorbed had I been familiar with the tales being retold?

However, I loved the way Johnston captured the Arabian setting. Her descriptions are beautiful and I did feel transported to the desert.

Truthfully, I don’t have much more to say about this one. Maybe it’s my own ignorance that hampered my enjoyment, or maybe I just wasn’t quite in the mood for it?

P.S. That cover though – STUNNING!