In A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnson, a loose retelling of Arabian Nights, we come across a young girl who remains nameless throughout the book, as do many of the other characters. The only one who actually has a name is the antagonist, Lo-Melkhiin, the King.
The King keeps the peace throughout the land, but he does so at the price of the women he takes as his wife. Each time he takes a wife, they don’t survive for very long, maybe a night, maybe a few nights, but they all die at Lo-Melkhiin’s hand.
When Lo-Melkiin comes to our protagonist’s village, she successfully catches the eye of Lo-Melkhiin, for that is what she planned. She did so to save her sister.
But she has a plan to stay alive and we learn how she does so and how her survival affects not only the people in the kingdom, but also her sister and her village.
I wish I could say I was thoroughly entertained by this novel, but I have to say it was just okay. There was too much that seemed amiss about it. Or maybe it was the pace as there wasn’t much in the way of action to keep. There were points where there could’ve been action scenes, however, the author chose to leave that out and focus on the aftermath instead.
Regarding character development, I’m not sure about. There were only two major characters and one of them was the antagonist, but just not in the way you might think. The other main character being the young wife trying to survive each day. She does have some moments of intrigue, and although she is very brave, her development is very subtle if anything. All the other characters we only had a very small amount of time with, and they remained the same throughout.
The drama of the story was fine, but it just wasn’t enough and really, all I wanted was more. I think the one big draw was the few times we got the first person narrative from the antagonist’s point-of-view, and Lo-Melkhiin’s mind set during this time. Because of that, there were some events that I found interesting and some that did have an element of magic and mysticism which made it interesting.
Luckily, it’s an easy read as the book is on the small side of novels these days. So, although it didn’t quite meet my expectations, there’s still some decent reading to be had.
My Grade: C+