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


A Thousand Nights
Series: None
Author: E.K. Johnston
Published October 22nd 2015 by Macmillan Children's Books

Goodreads Synopsis
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.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way impacted on my view.

As soon as I heard about this book, I was immediately intrigued. The synopsis was one that blew me away in a matter of a few sentences. I don't think I've ever requested a book via NetGalley as quick as I did this time. 

A Thousand Nights is based on the tale of A Thousand and One Nights, though I don't know much about this. In this book, the king, Lo-Melkhiin, has been marrying hundreds of girls, all of whom have died shortly after the marriage. The protagonist of the story, who has no name (and issue I'll get to later), offers herself up as his newest bride, to ensure her sister's safety. Somehow, she survives night after night, and discovers a magic that is linking her and Lo-Melkhiin. She is becoming a sort of demigod in her own right, and may just be the only one who can bring down the king.

Right, well to get to the first issue I had: there are no names. Honestly, I think maybe three names have been mentioned in a 300+ page book, and the only memorable one was Lo-Melkhiin's. The main character has no name, her sister is referred to as her sister, same with her parent's, her brothers, etc. Lo-Melkhiin's mother is, unimaginatively named, 'Lo-Melkhiin's mother'. At first, I thought I was just being a bit unobservant, but soon realised it wasn't my fault. Because of this, the characters aren't really that memorable. In weeks, months, years, to come, I won't be able to remember much about them.

Secondly, though this may be my fault, the story seemed to lack something. Perhaps the original story doesn't have much happening, and it couldn't really be added to. I would have liked to learn more about the world the characters were living in, and more of their traditions. The main plot line was the protagonist caring about her sister. She never really tried to learn more about the city/qasr she moved to, or about the girls who came before her. Yes, she was sorry they died, but that was about it. Her sister took up all of her thoughts, and the magic she had helped her do this.

Thirdly, there's next to no romance, even though it's implied. The protagonist's actions at the end of the book are supposed to come from love with her captor, but it's not really there. It's all rushed, and forced. As is the ending. Nothing really happens for 80-90% of the book, and then, in the climax, every happens. I couldn't exactly keep up with what was happening here. I am glad with the very last chapter, though, and that definitely helped to tie up the story. The magic between these two wasn't really explained either, though that also helped to keep the story entertaining.

A Thousand Nights definitely had an interesting premise, though it fell short of this. I'm really disappointed in it, and wish I hadn't hyped it up as much. Some people will love this book; other's will not. It's one I don't regret reading, but just wish it was more

Dates Read:
August 13-14, 2015

2 Stars

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  1. This is not the first bad review I've read for this book and it makes me sad because I was really looking forward to it. I'm not sure if I'm going to give this one a try or not. Thanks for the honest review.

    1. Yeah, I've seen a few other reviews where people really dislike this one. Have you read The Wrath and the Dawn? That's a retelling of the same story, and so much better than this one! If you want to read a retelling of the 1001 Nights tale, I'd recommend TWATD instead of A Thousand Nights.

      Sophie @ Sophie Reads YA