When Lo-Melkhiin - a formidable king - arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice - leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man.
But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king . . . if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.
Set against a harsh desert backdrop, A Thousand Nights by E K Johnston is an evocative tale of love, mystery and magic that would not feel out of place if Scheherazade herself were telling it.
And perhaps she is...
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A Thousand Nights is a story based on the classic tale One Thousand and One Nights but E.K. Johnston takes that starting point and turns it into something entirely her own, something unique and absolutely beautiful. I already know that I don't have the words to do this book justice so I'm going to tell you that this is one of the most memorable books I've read this year (and I've read well over 200 of them!) and it's probably the one I most want to recommend to people. This isn't a fast paced and action packed story, it's more of a leisurely stroll, but the scenery is so, so beautiful that you'll want to stop and admire the view. I honestly can't think of a more beautiful and magical tale I've read and I loved every minute of it.
Lo-Melkhiim is a powerful king but he is responsible for the deaths of over 300 girls. Nobody he marries survives long, in fact most don't even last a night, and they never make it beyond their first week. But the king is not satisfied and he travels around the country taking bride after bride and nobody dares to stop him. When he visits our main character's village everyone knows that he will choose her sister, the most beautiful girl of them all, but our protagonist loves her sister so much that she willingly sacrifices herself to save her. Don't get me wrong, she doesn't want to die and she is determined to do whatever it takes to survive as long as possible, but she can't bear the thought of her sister being taken away.
What follows is a beautiful story of survival, our main character tells us about her people, their history and their beliefs and she weaves such a wonderful tale that it's as if you've stepped into the book and are walking alongside her. I loved everything about A Thousand Nights, from the lyrical tone of the story to the fascinating and rich world building, I don't even care that we never find out anyone but Lo-Melkhiim's name.
A Thousand Nights is not a romance but it's a story full of love, the love between siblings, the bond between family members and the love of a people for the woman they see as their saviour. The love that turns one brave young girl into a smallgod who may just be powerful enough to defeat a monster.
I also have to mention how stunning the UK hardback is, I'd been sent a proof copy for review but I had to buy myself the finished version (and I don't even like hardbacks!) because it's so pretty. From the soft purple slip cover, to the gorgeous gold foil design on the bright pink hardback underneath, the pretty end pages and the beautifully detailed gold design on the edge of the pages this book is a work of art that perfectly reflects the contents of the story. This is a book that begs to be picked up and read again and again and I know it's one I'll be rereading many times in the future.
Source: Received from Macmillan in exchange for an honest review
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