A Thousand Nights - E.K. Johnston

I received this book for free from Pan MacMillan in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

SUMMARY

A nameless heroine sacrifices herself to save her sister and become the bride of a demonic king whose brides never live for long. She can randomly perform random magic and becomes all-powerful, but can she save the man the demon possesses?

 

WORLDBUILDING

For the most part, I loved the worldbuilding. This story was set in a desert and I swear sometimes I could feel the sand on my feet and getting all into my clothes as sand is wont to do. The descriptions of day to day life in the desert and qasr were lovely. The language used was quite a formal style, and combine that with the fact that no character apart from Lo-Melkhiin was named, it lent a bit of a dreamy atmosphere to the storytelling.

 

CHARACTERS + RELATIONSHIPS

The blurb on my ARC said, “The most dangerous love story ever told.” Don’t be fooled – this isn’t a romantic story. The love story is one of between sisters, like Frozen. Our nameless main character is utterly devoted to her sister, and vice versa, and their love for each other is what drives what little plot there is.

The nameless main character also develops a strong relationship with Lo-Melkhiin’s mother, the henna artist, and or course her existing relationship with her mother and sister’s mother are also remarkable.

There is no relationship with Lo-Melkhiin. They just sort of co-exist and he lives to mock her. She’s not particularly afraid of him, and she never plots against him.

 

WHAT WORKED/DIDN’T WORK

The biggest thing that annoyed me about this basically plotless book was the magic system. Out of nowhere, this girl, our nameless heroine, can suddenly conjure beings and astral project and even use x-ray vision (though none of it is referred to as such, it’s deliberately kept a little vague and dream-like). She has premonitions and suddenly, without even trying or learning to control whatever magic she’s got, she can easily defeat her enemies. She’s all-powerful and nothing can stop her, and she can save the day without much of a challenge at all.

The other thing that rankled me was the plot. The plot was rather boring. Our nameless girl is taken to the qasr, spends some time philosophising with a wise old man, unconsciously performs magic and is suddenly this uber-powerful magical girl, gets taken back to her father’s camp and defeats her enemy. Sure, she survives every night with Lo-Melkhiin, but I never actually felt like she was in danger. He treated her like an amusing plaything. And she didn’t really do anything to survive the night, either, nor did she plot an escape. She just kind of existed, passively, as the world worked around her. She didn’t even have to work hard, or even understand, her magic use. It just happened.

I thought A Thousand Nights (personally I think One Thousand Nights is a classier title) was supposed to refer to the number of nights the bride survived, but instead it refers to the number of nights Lo-Melkhiin has been possessed by a demon and gone on his bride-killing rampage. That being said, one thousand nights is just over three years, and I thought I read somewhere that he had been bride-hunting for ten (I could be wrong about this, and I didn’t double-check it, unlike the time where I DID double check to see if the MC had actually had a wedding ceremony, which she did not, even though it is referred to at least twice). So I really don’t know what the significance of the title is, other than to help people realise it’s a retelling of a famous story.

 

OVERALL

I wouldn’t bother with this book. Sure, it gets bonus points for diversity but lush language and exotic worldbuilding can’t hide the fact that this book makes no sense and is boring as hell. And the blurb on the back, “The most dangerous love story ever told” is really misleading.