A Thousand Nights by EK Johnston | Book Review

Is it just me or is this the year of the A Thousand And One Nights retellings? Either way, this is an abundance of non-white richness and I am a huge fan of that. EK Johnston’s A Thousand Nights is right on point with this young adult trend. While it might lack the richness of The Wrath And The Dawn, it certainly has some merit. For the most part, I had a decent time reading A Thousand Nights.

A Thousand Nights by EK Johnston is the story of this unnamed narrator. She lives in a caravan near a wadi in the desert with her mother, her sister’s mother, their father, brothers as well as other people. They lead happy, useful lives. The narrator is not quite as beautiful as her sister. She simply hopes her sister will marry well and then she can marry the brother of the man who marries her sister and they can continue to be happy forever. Alas, there is trouble brewing. The king, Lo-Melkhiin has taken a bride from every village. None of his brides live very long. So far there have been 300 deaths. In order to save her sister, the narrator dresses up in her finest dishdasha and presents herself to Lo-Melkhiin. She goes with Lo-Melkhiin to the qasr where he rules. There, she somehow manages to live through the night despite the odds. Again, she keeps on living.

You see, the main character of A Thousand Nights is a bit of a fighter. She may not fight with fists and weapons, but she is a fountain of strength. She refuses to be cowed. I love that she uses her cleverness  and draws from stories of heroes to keep herself alive. I love that she refuses to be idle and useless. The unnamed narrator has a work ethic that I can totally get behind. Furthermore, she cares so deeply for her family and her sister and this is evidenced by her risking her own life, that they may live. The narrator is the absolute picture of heroism and I really gelled with that, as a reader.

As for the villain of EK Johnston’s retelling, Lo-Melkhiin is a bit scary. Namely because you don’t quite know what he will do next. His character actually has his own narration sections. They are in italics. We get to see why is the way that he is – how he got that way. Also why none of his brides ever live.

The setting of A Thousand Nights is well fleshed out. EK Johnston brings the desert to life in a way that makes it beautiful. It is so easy to picture the scenery when reading Johnston’s rich descriptions. I could picture both the wadi and the qasr. In addition, it was not hard to imagine the various animals at the wadi and the camels and horses as well.

However, I do think that there was a lack of connection on my end when it came to this book. It took me what felt like forever to make my way through it. I just never felt like I was all-in when it came to A Thousand Nights. My reading felt like I was plodding. Also, I think the lack of a name for the main character bugged me a lot. Mainly because some of the men in this book had names, but none of the women, which feels super aggravating.

In the end though, I do like how the book wraps up. I like the strong feelings of girl power – aside from the lack of names. I liked the setting. I just wish that this book had a bit more – but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is – maybe just more oomph and momentum.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

Comments

  1. I’ve had this one for a long while now and REALLY want to read it… just haven’t yet. I’m glad that it turned out to be a good read, despite the lack of connection.

  2. I’ve been wondering about this book. Maybe I’ll get it if it goes on sale.
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