Friday, 16 October 2015

Review: A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston

A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston
Publisher: Macmillan
Released: October 22nd 2015
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on 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.
(from Goodreads)

While I liked this book overall, I do have some mixed feelings. I really enjoyed parts of it, especially in the first half, but I felt the end was a bit rushed and I would have liked a bit more character development.

The main character, who remained nameless throughout the book, was definitely interesting, and I really enjoyed reading her internal thoughts and observations. She obviously loved her sister a lot  since she was willing to risk her life by becoming Lo-Melkhiin’s wife, and I also really liked the way she talked to Lo-Melkhiin - she didn’t show fear and was bold with her words, even though she knew every night might be her last. I was a bit confused as to how her power worked and how she was managing to survive every day though and I really do wish we got a bit more explanation (not just for this but for other things too) instead of a lot of stuff having to be inferred or left to the imagination.

Lo-Melkhiin, was a character we didn’t get to know as well, though it was clear early on (minor spoiler, highlight to read) that something was possessing him (end of spoiler). The whole thing was slightly confusing for me, and I didn’t really understand how the events leading up to the ending happened (spoiler, highlight to read) how did the main character save him? I didn’t really get it? And why did she choose to stay married to the guy when she didn’t know him? (end of spoiler). I was definitely intrigued by Lo-Melkhiin, however, and I did enjoy reading the pages from his perspective, and his changing thoughts on the main character - I just wish there were more! And that we got to know more about his personality and background and likes and dislikes - especially after the event that happened towards the end. There wasn’t really very much romance in this book, but I was actually happy with that and really liked that the book concentrated on the relationship between the main character and her sister. I do think that’s perhaps why I wasn’t that fond of the ending, I found it a bit strange that this new element would suddenly be introduced. But I could understand it, though I wish we had maybe another chapter or two to become more adjusted.

The writing was probably the highlight of this book, and was kind of enchanting in a way. It flowed very well and I was engrossed from the first page. Some parts were quite descriptive, but apart from that (and the rushed ending), I really enjoyed it. The world-building was great and I could really imagine the setting and the society the characters lived in. The plot was weaker - it’s hard not to compare this book to The Wrath and the Dawn, which is another retelling of One Thousand and One Nights (and which I liked a lot). While this book may have had the edge on the writing, The Wrath and the Dawn had a stronger plot. Very little actually happened in A Thousand Nights, and the ending was probably the weakest part for me because I felt everything was rushed with very little explanation. I’m assuming there won’t be a sequel, which is a shame, because I think I could be more on board with the ending if we had a sequel (or at least a few more chapters) to get some more explanation and get to know the characters better. But I think a lot of people may actually like the ending, so do still give it a chance as this is definitely a book worth picking up.

I also can’t write this review without mentioning how beautiful the finished copy of this book is. I have the ARC which is very pretty, but the actual finished copy is AMAZING. It has a gorgeous cover, amazing patterned pages and ah! It’s so beautiful. I will probably buy myself a finished copy when I can.

Overall, this book was worth reading and had some great writing in places, but had a few problems in the plot department, as well in regard to some of the characters.


  1. This is the second retelling of this fairytale that has come out recently. They both look good. I'm sad this one has a rushed ending. That always drives me nuts.

  2. I am interested in the narrative voice since people keep talking about the unnamed characters. Sounds interesting!

    Kate @ Ex Libris


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