Friday, October 2, 2015

Feature Friday ARC Review : A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston


*Feature Friday ARC Review is a meme hosted by The Tattered Page to feature YA books that have not yet been released by reviewing them.

*Warning: This review may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Publication dateOctober 6, 2015
Source: ARC

The Story:

"A story threaded with shimmering vibrance and beauty, A Thousand Nights will weave its spell over readers' hearts and leave them captivated long after the final tale has been told." -Alexandra Bracken, New York Times best-selling author of The Darkest Minds series
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.

- via Amazon

My Review

I have to say ... I was highly disappointed with A Thousand Nights.

Opening Line:

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before coming to my village looking for a wife.


Growing up, the tale of Scheherezade was always vaguely in the background but I did not know the actual story. Only that it was a "historical" Middle Eastern inspired fantasy. However, when I received a copy of A Thousand Nights at BEA this year, I had to read it! 

I thought the premise of A Thousand Nights was fantastic. I had never been big on historical works or fantasy but what the story had to offer seemed too good to pass over. A dazzling tale of an evil leader who scours his kingdom for young brides who die mysteriously on their wedding night -- hundreds dead . . .  until one girl tricks him into marrying her in her beautiful sister's place. She survives one night . . . then another . . . then another . . . and so on. Come on, does that not sound like a promising story?

The pacing was a little slow for me. Nothing substantial happened, and it was basically the same idea over and over. Lo-Melkhiin would take energy from the main character (her name was not mentioned, I searched the through the book and on the internet only to realize the only character named in the story was Lo-Melkhiin... curious, not quite sure how I felt about the play) then she would wake up in the morning alive. Same story different page. 

"He did not touch me. I took the pins from my hair, and shed the dress so that I stood before him in henna and shift alone. If he knew what the symbols meant, he gave no sign, I did not think he did, Men did not, usually. It was only women's art, after all.

'Come to bed,' he said to me again.

I turned my heart to stone, and climber into bed with the viper."  - page 181

The world-building was fantastical. There was such great potential. I could really sense the Middle Eastern theme, and felt part of the world. Authentic, the writing could be beautiful at times. Johnston has a way with words . . . but the story simply fell flat for me. There wasn't an "Oh shit!" or an "Ow la la!" moment for me.

Meet the Author:

E. K. Johnston is a forensic archaeologist by training, a book seller and author by trade, and a grammarian by nature. She spends a great deal of time on the Internet because it is less expensive than going to Scotland. She can probably tell you, to the instant, when she fell in love with any particular song; but don't ask her, because then it will be stuck in both of your heads.

***Check out E.K. Johnston's website for more information about her and A Thousand NightsHERE

Happy Reading!


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