E.K. Johnston’s A Thousand Nights – The Most Beautiful YA You’ll Encounter This Year, and Maybe This Decade

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E.K. Johnston’s A Thousand Nights – The Most Beautiful YA You’ll Encounter This Year, and Maybe This Decade

This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever encountered.  If you don’t have it at the top of your wishlist, you need to put it there now.  The prose is so hypnotically ethereal that it is like reading a dream.  While A Thousand Nights is based on the idea of Arabian Nights, it isn’t focused on the short stories that keep a woman alive. This story focuses on the narrator, the humble desert girl who throws herself into the fire to save her beloved sister. It is a story about sisterly love so deep that it creates magic strong enough to thwart evil.  It is a story about a man who went into the desert and came back changed and twisted beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings.  It is the story of a mother clinging to the memory of a son whom she believes still resides inside of the monster he has become.  It is amazing.  There are still stories inside of stories, but they are the tales of desert dwelling caravans and the secrets of women who keep the hearth and home. Paced to enthrall, crafted to enchant, this is one book I can’t wait to share with my high school students and my friends.  I think it will appeal to a diverse set, and while it is very different from anything I have ever read, I think fans of The Night Circus will adore the dreamlike prose, and fans of The Raven Boys will like the magical concepts.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+, but the elevated prose style will appeal most to mature high school readers and adults.  This might be my top pick for 2015.

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Goodreads Summary

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.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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