REVIEW: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

a thousand yearsWhen the formidable king Lo-Melkhiin arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. If he does, she knows that her beloved sister will be dead within days. She takes her sisters place and joins Lo-Melkhiin in his palace, there she discovers a strange magic that connects the two of them and her own power. As she survives each night by telling her husband stories, her power grows as she sees visions of her sister and the desert. Will the power growing inside her be enough to kill the king?

A Thousand Nights has a wonderful female protagonist and her relationship with her sister is the highlight of the book. I never really realised till the end of the book that you never find out the names of a lot of these characters, the only named characters are men such as Lo-Melkhiin and the solider Firh Stonetouched. I think this is an interesting choice as you see that in many ways, any of the 300 girls chosen before our heroine could have been the hero in the tale as our heroine is standing up for all the girls that have come before her and died by the hands of Lo-Melkhiin.

There are a lot of great female relationships in A Thousand Nights. Lo-Melkhiin’s mother still manages to believe in her son and that belief rubs off on to our heroine. The relationships between our heroine and her mother, sister and sisters-mother are all filled with love and respect, while the relationship between her and the women in the palace are often mutually beneficial and the women work together to look after her. It’s great to read a book where the women are the strong and powerful ones, who ignite change in people and make each other strong.

The magic that the heroine possesses isn’t easy for her to understand or control, often she does things with it without realising. The way the magic is described makes it sound incredibly beautiful and as she learns where it came from and how to use it, she realises that she could be as strong as the king.

The story itself is pretty simple and often predictable. A lot of it is about the girl’s day to day life in the palace, how she gets washed and dressed and the people she meets. The evenings where she talks to Lo-Melkhiin are often a very tiny part of a chapter, only lasting a couple of pages. Their relationship is interesting as you get snippets from his point of view so you understand him better than the protagonist but there wasn’t enough of their interactions for me.

The ending of A Thousand Nights felt a bit rushed. When I had about 50 pages left I was suddenly fearing that this book was in fact the first book in a series as I was really unsure how everything was going to be resolved in such a small amount of pages, but everything did come together and was pretty neatly tied up. It was just all sorted pretty quickly and some aspects were kind of hand-waved away.

While A Thousand Nights is a pretty simple and easy to read story, the magical elements and the strong relationships between the female characters makes it stand out more. 3/5.

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