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Folklore & Legends | Book Review: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

A Thousand Nights is a new retelling of One Thousand and One Nights, and you won’t want to miss it.

Book Review: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

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a thousand nights e.k. johnston

Title & Author: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Retelling

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“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.”

New & Different Take

A Thousand Nights is this year’s second One Thousand and One Nights retelling. It’s VERY different than The Wrath and the Dawn, and through storytelling and characterization, both books bring to life new aspects of the original story.

The first and most important thing to know about this tale is that its told in a more traditional folklore style. Forgive me if I missed it, but I’m pretty sure the main character is never given a name! And Lo-Melkhiin’s mom is only known by her title (which is said ad-nauseam throughout the story).

Not naming certain characters is a hallmark of folklore, and I thought the whole story was given this “told-around-the-campfire” flair that I really enjoyed.

A Thousand Nights also incorporates magic and darker characters. The main character has a subtle strength. Where other YA heroines may be overtly fierce with their physical skills or outgoing personality, our leading lady in this book is smart and kind in a quiet sort of way.

Her power lies in areas that are easily looked over, and I LOVED that about this story. The details are carefully included, and the dramatic points make an impact.

The romance is pretty light in this story, and A Thousand Nights doesn’t necessarily need it. I honestly think a heavy romance would have weighed down this story instead of lift it up.

My only real gripe is that the ending wasn’t where I would have loved it to be. There is no cliffhanger (I’m pretty sure this is a standalone novel), but I just wanted a teensy bit more.


Very different than its counterpart, The Wrath and the Dawn, A Thousand Nights offers new ideas in retelling the Arabian Nights story. I’m thankful for both interpretations – especially this folklore-based version. This book still offers a strong heroine but in more subtle ways. A Thousand Nights sucked me in, and I was pleasantly surprised.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • AnneBennett

    I was a little put-off by the heavy romance of THE WRATH AND THE DAWN so I will gladly look for this one as a contrast.