Hey, book lovers.
So, I just finished reading this imaginative novel by E. K Johnston (an author I had never heard of before, as is usual, to be honest- I love finding new authors), called A Thousand Nights. The main concept of this book is that the king, Lo-Melkhiin, is on the hunt for a new wife. He has had an awful habit, previously, of taking wives from many cities and villages across their world, and killing them with his light-magic, and our protagonist, completely unnamed throughout the whole novel, takes the place of her gracious and beautiful sister, and becomes the king’s new wife.
The issue, here, is that there is a demon within the king, controlling his violent and brutal actions. When the desert girl leaves her sister and their mothers, their father and their brothers for the palace, she realises that there might still be a good king within the man. She becomes attached to the king’s mother, who truly believes this better side of him still exists, and as she grows within this palace, counting each day as one where she has not yet died, like the many others before her. She weaves each morning, as she used to, and the servant girls of the palace and the religious men there develop a fondness for her. She has magic of her own, which she intertwines with the king’s whenever he comes to see her, and magic which can help her to build and create anything she wishes. Lo-Melkhiin is the only character named throughout the entire book. I thought this was very clever to do, and I can imagine it would have been rather difficult, but E.K Johnston has done this well.
I loved the setting. You can feel the desert sand and hold the images of what she experiences in your mind as you read, and I could see it clearly as day. The dialogue had a fairytale style to it, and I’ve recently acquired the book of Grimm’s Fairytales, and this reminded me very much of the stories in this collection.
I really enjoyed reading into her character, her relationships with her family, her close bond with her sister. I thought she was strong throughout the book, even with her sickness from her dwindling magic, and I loved the idea of the rebellion towards the end, when her family decided to rebel against the king, her husband, and she came to defy them and save the king from himself.
The only thing I might say less positively about this book, is that I thought it felt quite, short. Three-hundred pages, and I don’t think she spent much time with the king himself, though those moments were special, and come to love him in the way I expected her to before I began reading. She spent a lot of her time in the palace, away from her family, with the other servants or in the garden. I think the plot could have been developed a little more, but other than that I really enjoyed the book and I would definitely recommend it.
For now, happy reading!