Author: E.K. Johnston
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: October 6, 2015
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.
First, I would like to thank Disney for sending me a copy of this book.
Well. I do love a good retelling, even if it's not particularly true to the original story. Neither of the retellings of The Arabian Nights that I have read have kept very close to the original story, but I certainly enjoyed this one more. And that is for a few reasons. But for a YA book, I really enjoyed that Johnston didn't just send us a love story set in this time and place. She gave us a story that was true to its setting, not about romance. But about love for your family. And while I do love romance,this was very different from many things currently found in the YA community.
I may not have noticed if it weren't pointed out to me, but the main character's name was never mentioned. After I noticed that, I also noticed that only one character truly had a name: Lo-Melkhiin. And yet, somehow, none of the characters needed names to be distinguishable and interesting and lovable as who they were. I also found this a wonderful addition to the setting, being told from the female protagonist's POV. In this time and place, she would not likely be one to speak names. It would be titles.
The writing is beautiful and powerful, and much of the story is told through flashbacks, stories, or visions, leaving one guessing what is actually happening. There was certainly a story being told. But it wasn't a very long plot, since -as I said- much of the story is flashbacks, visions, and other stories. But that is fine. I enjoyed the main character's head very much. And seeing little snippets into "Lo-Melkhiin's" head was definitely a treat.
At the end, I enjoyed all of the action. But I felt that the ending fell a little flat, especially when put next to the action that had just occurred.
What's my overall opinion?
Overall, I really enjoyed it. I loved that there was a fantasy twist. And I appreciated how much of the true culture the author tried to leave in, rather than removing it for plot development. I would recommend this to people who enjoy YA and retellings, particularly if they're looking for something with a fantastical flair.
Note: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and that in no way sways my opinion of this book.