Friday, October 9, 2015

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

Title: A Thousand Nights
Author: E.K. Johnston
Published: October 6, 2015 by Disney Hyperion
(Amazon / 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 won a copy of this book from the lovely ladies of Read Sleep Repeat as part of their ARC August celebrations. I totally forgot about it so imagine my surprise when not one but two gorgeous copies showed up at my doorstep (check out my Twitter for a giveaway of the extra copy). I had a hole in my TBR waiting for new releases to come out so I dived right into it. And while there was a lot to really like about A Thousand Nights, it didn't blow me away.

One thing that did blow me away was the author's writing style. The prose here is incredibly gorgeous and engaging. It had a beautiful and poetic quality that flowed so well. It also had this old world quality to it and felt almost like epic poetry or some kind on ancient story being passed down to the reader. It absolutely fit with the plot and setting of the story and added a lot of dimension to the book. It also helped set the scene. From the descriptions of everything from the clothing to the locations is was all very lyrical and descriptive. It definitely helped you to immerse yourself in the world of the book.

Which was another thing that I really liked about it. The world that is created here is so lush and interesting. From the dessert setting to the politics and culture of the book even the magical system, it was all really engaging. I feel like books with desert settings are really popular right now in YA and going in I was a little nervous that it was going to feel very similar but it absolutely didn't. This had much more of a historical feel to it. The author definitely did her research into what life was like in the Middle East during the bronze age. Both the desert civilization and the palace setting felt detailed and realistic in an entertaining way. But the most entertaining thing about the world was the magical system. I'm always looking for a unique magical system and I found one here. It's interesting because not only was there specific and clear rules but there was also a lot of mystery around the magic too.You learned about it slowly and methodically. And the magic of the book wasn't a huge part of the overall plot development but it was the best part.

Unfortunately, the overall plot of the story did feel like it was a little lacking to me. I'm a very plot driven reader. I need there to be a really strong plot development and I didn't find that here. The best way to express this is that Tuesday I was travelling for work and one of my coworkers asked me what I was reading and I just couldn't really explain it. I wasn't entirely sure what was happening at all. But that may have been exacerbated by the pacing of the book. It's nor super long but I was just cruising through it mostly because so little was happening. The real plot didn't kick in until about 75% of the way in and the rest of it just felt like exposition and build up. I expect that a little bit from first books in a series but this is a standalone. Most of the plot development was just creating and explaining the world and magic. For me I think I would have liked it a little bit more if the larger narrative had come in a lot earlier.

But that may be because this was more of a character driven story. I think? I can't even say. But that may have also been because the characters didn't blow me away. I mean the main character was fine. I admired her love for her sister and the fact that she would risk her own safety and happiness to protect her. She was also incredibly brave and selfless when it came to other people around her but she just didn't jump off the page. And the antagonist Lo-Melkhiin was pretty ruthless and easy to root against but I would have liked there to be a little bit more depth to him. He felt a little flat. The thing that redeemed him a little was his mother and his love for her. She was pretty interesting though she didn't have that big a part. Same thing with the main character's family. I can't believe I'm going to say this but this book may have benefited a little bit from multiple perspectives. There was a little bit of that but it was all still through the MC's eyes. I think a little bit more exploration of some of the other character's thoughts and action would have helped me connect with them and the MC. On the whole none of the characters really made a big impression.

A Thousand Nights was an engaging read but it didn't quite blow me away. The writing was beautiful and the world was interesting with a great magical system but I didn't connect with the characters and would have liked more plot development.

I give A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston 7.5 out of 10 stars.

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you are looking for something a little different and a fast read with an engaging world and interesting magical system then check this out the next time you are at your local library. I would say that fans of historical fiction or historical fantasy may like this one a little bit more than fans of straight fantasy. There were some really great elements especially the writing but it didn't blow me away

Have you read A Thousand Nights? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I'm glad to hear that the writing and the descriptions were amazing and that it feels like historical more than just straight fantasty! And as always, I loooove your GIF usage!!

    1. Thanks Pili. Yes, I knew I had to use Aladdin gifs so of course I found ones that worked. And yes, it definitely felt more like Historical Fiction. That's not a problem, I was just expecting more fantasy elements.