Tag Archives: A Thousand Nights

A Thousand Nights by E K Johnston

A Thousand Nights by E K JohnstonA Thousand Nights
E K Johnston
Disney Hyperion

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When Lo-Melkhiin comes to her village looking for his next wife, she knows he will choose her beautiful sister. She knows, too, that her sister would then be next in the long line of girls who meet death soon after becoming his bride. She vows to take her sister’s place.

In the palace, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her every night. She spins stories for him, grand tales about her home. Each morning she wakes. Each night he comes again. Strange things begin to happen. Power flows through her hands at weaving. Rumors surface of the good, kind man Lo-Melkhiin once was. She vows to weave power strong enough to free him from whatever curse has made him cruel. But she must do it before he destroys the kingdom and her.

Because the story is told through a lilting first-person narrative, I was so captured by the tale I didn’t realize the main character isn’t named. Normally that would really bother me, but as I said, I was sucked right into the plight of this brave girl who expected every night to be murdered by her husband.

As the story went on, I had more of a love-hate experience regarding her relationship with Lo-Melkhiin. I wanted there to be flashes of his former self behind his eyes or something, and it really wasn’t that kind of story. She believes wholly on faith that a good man exists, imprisoned inside him. I think that worked, I just had to adjust my expectations a bit.

I also kept having to resist the urge to compare this story to a recent favorite, Book of a Thousand Days. The narrative flow is a little similar, in that it has this poetic feel. It’s not really the same, and I think the two can’t really be compared. Book of a Thousand Days felt denser (in a good way) to me. This story felt simpler, not necessarily in a bad way.

That said, I’m generally a huge fan of fairytale retellings, and this, based on the stories of Scheherazade, did not leave me feeling disappointed.

The one note I’ll add about content is that I grew up in a church which condemned watching or playing Pokemon because it bore too close a parallel to trying to control spiritual creatures (too much like demons), and from that perspective, I’m not sure I would have been allowed to read this book as a younger teen. Certainly my parents and spiritual leaders would have been concerned with the demon-possession aspect and with her own power coming from worship and prayer given to her by the people.

At this point for me personally, it’s not always easy to decide where to draw the line on spiritual matters emerging in books, movies, and video games. My daughter’s father and I don’t always share the same values on these issues. In fact, we don’t always even land on the same (conservative vs liberal) side of the scale depending on the issue. So co-parenting across those lines can also be challenging. Because it is important to both of us to foster respect for our decisions in our daughter, I think we tend to try to err on choosing the more conservative side of the spectrum. It’s often about waiting rather than forbidding. At ten, the answer is no, but at fourteen, it might be yes. I suspect this book might fall into that category in my own judgment.

Language Content

Sexual Content
She understands that she’ll be expected to have sex with her husband, and worries about it. No details given.

Spiritual Content
The people pray to smallgods. Each family has a shrine set up, often to a family member who who has died. Everyone prays to the person and leaves relics and offerings at the shrine. These give the smallgods power. When she leaves her family to become Lo-Melkhiin’s wife, her family sets up a shrine to her and her sister prays and keeps it. Over time, others pray to her as well, and her power grows.

Lo-Melkhiin returned from a hunting trip possessed by a demon. It controls him, keeps him caged within a small part of his brain. It also uses his power as king to control the people. It kills his wives to strengthen itself. It’s a pretty dark concept.

The demon’s power is pitted against her growing power as a smallgod. Each tries to destroy the other: she wants to free Lo-Melkhiin. He wants to kill her and take her power for his own.

Some spiritual power and authority also goes to the Skeptics, learned men who study the universe and its often unanswerable questions.

References to wives being murdered. He sort of draws out their life force and leaves them withered and dead husks. It’s briefly described.

Drug Content

Nine Books I Want to Pre-Order

I had this idea that blogging book reviews would actually reduce my spending on literature. You know, publishers send me books. I read great, current books for free and then recruit people to listen to my opinion on the internet. Heavenly.

And it is, but mostly what it does is educate me better on what’s coming soon. So now I have a list of must-have books that haven’t even hit the shelves yet. I’m not one to order a lot of books ahead of time, but I’m absolutely on pins and needles over these hot new titles. Here are nine books I want to pre-order:

1. Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights? (All the Wrong Questions #4) by Lemony Snicket (9/22/15)

My daughter and I have been giggling our way through this whole series, and I expect this last book to be every bit as good as the first three have been. Apprentice Detective Lemony Snicket and his team of associates are closing in on the villain Hangfire’s evil plot. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

2. Spinning Starlight by R. C. Lewis (10/6/15)

Gah! Another Disney/Hyperion title that looks super cool. Honestly, it kind of seems like Disney is doing what they do and modeling a product line after a big industry success. Here we have a sci-fi fairytale retelling that bears some strong resemblance to The Little Mermaid. Okay, so that was my favorite Disney movie growing up and the idea of setting it in space totally has me intrigued.

3. A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston (10/6/15)

This one just looks too good. It looks like a sort of retelling of the story of Shahrazad, whose nightly stories saved her life.

I keep requesting Disney/Hyperion titles, but so far I’m a no-go on NetGalley. Disney may be looking for more frequent posts or higher blog stats or something. So, alas… I’ll have to buy it off bookstore shelves like everyone else.

4. Dark Tide (Waterfire Saga #3) by Jennifer Donnelly (10/13/15)

I’m a huge fan of Ms. Donnelly. I loved A Northern Light and Deep Blue, the first book in the Waterfire Saga. I love that it’s a whole different spin on a mermaid story. There’s no prince to rescue, no mermaid wishing to be human, just a mermaid princess trying to save her people from a terrible evil. The Waterfire Saga is on my list of books to read with my daughter this year.

5. Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes #2) by Sarah Raasch (10/13/15)

I stumbled onto the first book in this series and immediately loved Raasch’s storytelling style. The plot unfolded in directions I didn’t anticipate. The characters earned my respect. I am definitely interested in what happens next to the sole survivors of the kingdom of Winter.

6. These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly (10/27/15)

These Shallow Graves caught my eye because it bears Donnelly’s name. It looks a bit darker and more suspenseful, and it’s got some mystery to it as the heroine explores the truth behind her father’s death. It’s a little different than my usual picks, but all the more reason to bring it on.

7. Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer (11/10/15)

It’s the LAST book in the Lunar Chronicles. I confess I didn’t start reading the series until after the second book, Scarlet, came out, so I read the first three in pretty close succession. Each time I’m like, how is Meyer going to top that? And then she goes and does it. Winter features themes familiar from the fairytale Snow White. I can’t wait to see how Meyer explores the sci-fi retelling of the classic story and weaves it into the dramatic climax of what has been an incredible series.

8. Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood (12/8/15)

I read another book by this same publisher (Running Press) and was so blown away by the craftsmanship of the story that I immediately put them on my list of publishers to watch. While the book I read before (When You Leave by Monica Ropal) was a contemporary novel, Inherit the Stars is a sci-fi tale that looks to be loaded with political intrigue and maybe a bit of star-crossed love. Count. Me. In.

9. The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater (2/23/16)

This series has been one of those guilty pleasures. It definitely contains some spiritual content that’s pretty far off the path in terms of themes I’m usually comfortable with in literature. I got the first book for free and have been hooked since. Plus, I have to say that Will Patton’s narration of the audiobooks makes it one of my top favorites, ever. The Raven King is the final book in the series, so I’m especially eager to find out what happens to Blue, Gansey, Ronan and all their friends.

Do you pre-order books or prefer to wait until they hit shelves before you buy?