Published by Macmillan Children's Books on October 20th 2015
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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.
If you’re looking for magic in a One Thousand And One Nights retelling then this is it. Super feminist and full of fire and passion. If you’re looking for a blood-boiling romance story, this isn’t it though. I hate to admit that I was looking for a few more smooches. If that’s what you’re after The Wrath and The Dawn may be a better fit for you. But in all other aspects A Thousand Nights is a tighter, better constructed story with stunning writing and great, consistent characterisation.
Our unnamed protagonist rescues her sister from the clutches of a wicked king by offering herself instead. The king, Lo Melkhiin, kills all his brides, usually after the first night. Yet our protagonist manages to evade death through her story telling and her own brand of magic. But she is never safe and the story of her continued survival is a harrowing, intense battle between her demon-possessed husband and her better nature.
Things that I loved:
The relationship between our protagonist and her sister.
The story construction whose pacing is never fast but always appropriate to the narrative.
The cover (OMG THE EDITION I HAVE IS FUCKING STUNNING, GUYS.)
Things that I didn’t like:
This book is marketed as “The Most Dangerous Love Story Ever Told” and that is just a lie. The only love is between the protagonist and her sister. This is not a love story, it’s a survival story and in many ways that’s more appropriate, but leaves the ending bitter sweet.
The stunning, evocative imagery and world building is enough to wring squees of delight out of me.
All up I highly recommend this amazing feminist retelling of One Thousand and One Nights for those out there who love a good story.