While I love having the opportunity to read new books, I also enjoy going back and re-reading titles that really captured my attention. One book that I recently decided to re-read was A Thousand Nights, by E.K. Johnston.
A Thousand Nights is a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights, a classic collection of stories that is sometimes referred to as The Arabian Nights. The original story focuses on a woman named Scheherazade, who marries a sultan with a deep distrust of women.
He plans to have his new bride killed on the morning following their wedding, but Scheherazade foils his plans. She begins to tell him a story on their wedding night, refusing to finish it until the following night. This forces him to delay her execution so he can find out how the story ends. However, immediately after ending the story, she begins another. She continues to tell the sultan stories for 1,001 nights.
“Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village looking for a wife.”A Thousand Nights, by E.K. Johnston (page 3)
E.K. Johnston has re-imagined this story in a very unique way. Taking the place of the original sultan is Lo-Melkhiin, a cruel ruler who didn’t always used to be that way. According to rumor, he became possessed by a dangerous, desert-dwelling being while hunting…one which has taken the lives of every woman he has married.
When Lo-Melkhiin arrives in the narrator’s village, seeking his next wife, she is certain that he will choose her beautiful sister to be his new queen. Desperate to save her sister’s life, the narrator dresses in the finest clothes her family possesses in order to direct his attention to her instead.
The narrator manages to survive her first night with her new husband, not only by telling him a story about her family, but also because of a gift of magic, which was bestowed upon her because of her willingness to sacrifice herself for her sister. It’s a gift that will be desperately needed, because the rumors of Lo-Melkhiin’s possession are true, and the narrator might be the only one who can stop him from killing any more young women.
I really enjoyed reading A Thousand Nights! This was actually my third time reading this novel, and I enjoyed it every bit as much as I did during my previous readings. Johnston did a phenomenal job of world building, and I found it very easy to lose myself in the story.
If you are a fan of young adult fantasy, or if you enjoy reading retellings of classic stories, then I definitely recommend checking out A Thousand Nights. While it is different than its source material, it is an excellent story that I think you’ll really enjoy. I’m already looking forward to reading the sequel, which is called Spindle.