Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: E. K. Johnston
Lo-Melkhiin has married and killed over three hundred girls since emerging from the desert a changed man. The laws stipulate he can only take one girl from each village once. Our unnamed heroine just wants to save her beloved and beautiful sister from being taken and destroyed. So she takes her place and goes with the king to his qasr to become his wife. While in the qasr she discovers the “copper fire,” magic that emanates from her because of the prayers her family say to her as their new smallgod. As she weaves and lives within the walls of the qasr she learns about Lo-Melkhiin and the demon that possessed him. After being granted permission to return to her wadi for her sister’s wedding, she confronts Lo-Melkhiin and his army of demons to save all the people who have gathered for the wedding. In her last moments of consciousness she also saves the Lo-Melkhiin who has been buried away under the power of the demon.
A Thousand Nights was a fresh retelling of Arabian Nights. Johnston weaves the story, magic, and language in much the same way the unnamed storyteller weaves physical wool and magic. The lack of names in the story, with the exception of Lo-Melkhiin and a few others, seems to be an attempt to place the reader into the shoes of the heroine. Honestly, the namelessness of the women and many of the men in the story mostly unsettled me as I read. The story centered mainly on the heroine and her growth as a character as she gains power and learns how to defeat the demon. Although the story shows this growth well, I was unbelieving about the heroine's realization at the end that Lo-Melkhiin, the man without the demon, was good beneath the burden of possession. Their relationship was very unsatisfying. There are some disturbing undertones of violence, rape, and demonic possession that are more suited to older audiences. All in all, the story was well written and the personal growth of the girl was engaging.
*Contains some disturbing descriptions of violence and undertones of rape and abuse.