Review: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

a thousand nights

Genre: Ya | fairytale retelling | fantasy
Goodreads rating: 3.68
My rating: ★

summary

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 (Goodreads).

review

Let me start this review with this gif:

That’s what this book was. The writing style didn’t captivate me, nothing happened until like the last 30 pages and it was basically just: ‘they bathed me, they did my hair, then I went to weave’. Then there was this passage about how to weave.

I really, really, really don’t.

There were so many flashbacks that I didn’t care for. They didn’t add to the plot, the characters were dull and so were the flashbacks themselves. It’s such a shame, because look at that beautiful cover (that’s without the jacket) and the summary sounds so interesting too. But it isn’t. I skim-read a lot. I only read the dialogue and the first sentence of a paragraph to see if it was important.

Okay, let’s start from the beginning. The main character (who is never named) is almost immediately taken to the palace. It felt very fast to me, so fast that the pace felt off. Then once we get to the palace, barely anything happens. There are the evenings that Lo-Melkhiin visits the main character, but those scenes were just… I mean, I don’t get why he wouldn’t kill her already? Her stories really weren’t that captivating (I haven’t read the original fairy tale yet, but that’s why he doesn’t kill Scheherazade right?) and she herself isn’t that interesting either.

Oh and the irony:

irony

Okay, so it turns out that the main character has magical/special powers, which I guessed was because she was being turned into a ‘smallgod’. I thought this was a really interesting concept, but I didn’t really get it (there was an explanation of how her ancestor had been turned into one, but oh my God the story was so dull and long. Like please shorten it) and I still don’t really understand how her powers work, which is a shame. Also at first I really didn’t understand what was happening. She had these visions of her family back home and at first it just seemed like she was imagining that, you know in the ‘I wonder what they’re doing right now’ kind of way.

None of the characters felt realistic to me. Not only were they very flat and would I not be able to describe them, at some point I almost screamed at the book ‘NOBODY TALKS THAT WAY’.

WHAT I DID LIKE

  • No romance (which I didn’t expect)
  • SISTERS! It focuses on the relationship between the two sisters and that’s beautiful
  • I do like the concept, I just don’t like the execution of it
  • And of course the beautiful jacket, hardback itself and the pages (I’m so shallow lol)

SPOILER SECTION

Lo-Melkhiin was a cruel ruler and killed all his wives because he was possessed by a demon. We start with a prologue from this demon’s perspective, which was really promising and gave me chills and made me excited. Then we got the main characters pov and it was just

I wish the demon thing was explored more. At the end he has an army of them and I just? More background information please? What are they capable of? Do they just possess people?

So towards the end of the book the main character is allowed to go home for a bit for her sister’s wedding. There she finds out that her family had gathered an army and was preparing a war. ‘That is so exciting! Finally something is happening!’ I thought to myself, when I realised there were like 30 pages left. Um. Okay then.

By the time the actual war starts, there are only a few. The whole damn thing is over in like five pages. The main character saves the day with her mysterious powers because she’s of course a ‘special snowflake’.

And even though a war is supposed to be exciting, this one wasn’t? I was still skim-reading.

Of course if you wanted to read this, don’t feel discouraged! I’ve seen reviews of people who absolutely loved this book. It’s just not for me.

Did you read A Thousand Nights? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

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19 thoughts on “Review: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

  1. Omg yes I couldn’t get through this one. So. much. description. The cover was so beautiful and the synopsis was so promising, the book itself was a snoozefest.

  2. Aw that’s disappointing. I got excited when I saw that it was a reworked fairytale. I love those and actually have one published. It would be nice to see more of them in recent works. I read the compilations edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow years and years ago, and of course many, many stories draw from fairytales, but it’s been a while since I’ve read a good one.

  3. Aw, noooooooo! :( I was really looking forward to this one, and it sucks to hear that it was such a disappointment. Great review though! Your gifs were hilarious, though unfortunate that you had to use them for this book. XD

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