A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston Review

Thursday, August 18th 2016


“Already, the story is changing.
When men tell it in the souks and in the desert, they shape it to fit their understanding. It passes from caravan to caravan, to places where they have never heard of the one called Lo-Melkhiin. The words change language, and meaning is lost and gained in every vowel’s shift. They change the monster into a man, and they change her into something that can be used to teach a lesson: if you are clever and if you are good, the monster will not have you.
You should not believe everything you hear.”

We’ve all fallen in love with the mystical Arabian tale of One Thousand and One Nights, is magical, entertaining, entrancing, wishful, and simply wonderful. I really did not want it to end. I really did not want to enjoy this book as much as I did, because that would mean it would hurt my hear more when the journey finally ended. It’s not very often a book is able to completely enchant me with it’s subtly yet fantastic linguistic execution of feministic literature masterpiece. What’s even more rare, is to have an author completing the illusion of truly being immerse culture with the usage of sentences syntax. This novel is just simple amazing. I have never read a book in which the narrator of the novel gave me the truth feeling that I was being told a story through he Arabic translation of the syntax of their usage of dialogue.

A Thousand and One Nights is a great read, and truly superior than it’s more popular retelling of Arabian Nights of The Wrath & The Dawn by Reneè Ahdieh. I know it’s hard to believe that there is a book in this entire book universe that is better than my beloved  The Wrath & The Dawn couple of silent Khalid, and his clever love Shahrzad. That does not mean that I’m going to lower my review of  The Wrath & The Dawn after reading  One Thousand and One Nights. I’m just illustrating that the remaining of the story is what the author  E K. Johnston did to her novel instead of just merely retelling. It’s this clear differences between the authors creative path that leads to a reader have two different experiences while reading both novels. Since both novel are based off of the same references point there are similarities. A ruler who marries a woman, who tragically only kills her soon after then consummate the marriage. The young woman then is sacrificed, in order to save beloved from that fate. Thus the survival is of the essences.

Illustration for One thousand and one nights by Olga Dugina, 2006

Illustration for One thousand and one nights by Olga Dugina, 2006

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village looking for a wife.

She that he chose of us would be a hero. She would give the others life. Lo-Melkhiin would not return to the same village until he had married a girl from every camp, from every town, and from each district inside city walls—for that was the law, struck in desperation though it was. She that he chose would give hope of a future, of love, to those of us who stayed behind.

She would still be dead.

That’s all the similarities of the book you’ll ever find between the two books. Author E K Johnston managed to weave a tale that is so complex yet beautiful in the telling of it, as well as the romance of it all. I’m tell you, this book is truly magical. The setting of this book is the mystical dessert kingdom, it’s also beautiful in the way the world is developed in the world building itself. The dessert kingdom in which author Johnston has created is unbelievably beautiful. Johnston managed to subtle building a world around us in such a subtle way that sets not only a lesson but also within a few paragraphs of history in the same syntax. The book is far more igneous in the telling, character point of view, environment, as well as a wondrous, believable world that is so effortlessly seamless into the epic fantasy that surrounds the strength of our female protagonist.

What I love most about this book compared to my beloved The Wrath & The Dawn is the fact that the king is in this tale chooses a wife from every village, then kills them soon after. Thats usually it. However our anonymous heroine decided to choose herself, not because she finds herself to be the most beautiful, not. She decides to sacrifices herself in order to save her sister. The love that she has for her sisters is overwhelmingly beauitful, it’s that same love that truly gives her courage when I would only crumble in fear. It’s the love of her sister that truly makes this book so much better in my opinion compared to the retelling of  The Wrath & The Dawn. The sisterly love definitely places a big part in why I love this book so much more. I also love the fact that she takes the love of her sister with her into this dangerous palace, where no other wife has ever survived.  How can you not  fall in love a woman whose gains  inner strength from the fierce love of her sister?

“My sister finds the fire in others,” I said. “Her husband may be the quietest man at the market until he sees her. Then he will burn with a flame to match her own.”

“My sister is no fool and she is not tender-hearted,” I said. “My sister fights for her home, and takes what risks she must. That is why I put myself before her today—why I would not let you have her. My sister burns, and she does not burn for you.”

It’s human instincts to want to live longer, especially when you’re face with ultimate death of your dangerous betroth is willing to kill you at any moment. One would think that a female character would be placed in the situation of being submissive to her husband in order to keep in favor of her dangerous betrothed husband. Instead our heroine showcases her intelligence as a woman by showing that she can be submissive outward, while incasing her true power that all women wield inward. This is the type of artistry that E K. Johnston has as an author, the fact that theres’s no whitewashing the books character in order to make the plot more romance or smoother.

“I am yours to command, husband,” I said to him, and met his eyes.

When my mother spoke to our father, she often said that. He liked it, the way she put herself in his hands. Until just now, I had not realized that since my mother was the one who allowed it, she had more power than even he might have realized. Lo-Melkhiin thought I was less than him; but his was not the only tally.

I know that this book is featured in the Middle-East, I’m just really glad that Johnston understands that just because the novel setting is in the Middle-East doesn’t mean that women are weak in the mind. The characters are also APPROPRIATELY DARK-SKINNED! Praises! I’m so tired of reading a book set where characters since are dark tone yet they are described as pale. I’ not even sure why we are even fighting for diversity in books in the books themselves are set in an area that contains it’s on capsule of diversity, cultural importances, and religious references, why do authors, publishers, and readers tend to ignore. One Thousand and Nights One does not attempt to whitewash the characters in blue eyes or blonde hair! The main character comes form the nomadic desert tribe, she looks the part that you would find in a  National Geographic Magazine  of the Tuareg, a nomadic people who live in the African Sarah Dessert

“We had skin of burnt bronze, a deeper brown than sand, and duskier where it was exposed to the wind and sky. Our hair was long enough to sit upon, and dark: the color around the stars, when night was at its fullest.?

This novel, A Thousand Nights is not a retelling, it’s a tale that is truly woven from the dreams of love and magic. Reading this novel is a wonderful experiences that I truly hope you take upon yourself.

“There is life, and there is living.”

About E.K. Johnston

E.K. Johnston had several jobs and one vocation before she became a published writer. If she’s learned anything, it’s that things turn out weird sometimes, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. Well, that and how to muscle through awkward fanfic because it’s about a pairing she likes

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