Review: A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston

About the book:

He killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife.

When a powerful and dangerous king arrives in the desert to take one of the village girls as his next wife, one girl will stop at nothing to save the life of her sister – even if it means sacrificing herself.

At his palace she is sure death awaits. But the king’s fascination with her keeps her alive night after night, as the tales she weaves for him create a strange magic between them and her words come to life before her eyes. As her stories become more intricate and beautiful, her magic becomes more powerful, but will it be enough to save her?

Review by Katy Haye:

I seem to have a thing about Arabian Nights retellings, but there are worse hobbies one could have!

E K Johnston’s interpretation of Sheherazade’s story was glorious. The sense of place was utterly vibrant – I was there in the desert with our heroine.

The relationships between the different characters were beautifully drawn, with even minor characters being complex and well-rounded. I often find themes of sacrifice to be troubling when it comes to female characters (maybe I’m being over-sensitive, but they often seem to contribute to a narrative of victimhood rather than power), but the bond between sisters was so well depicted that the sacrifice was completely convincing. Strong female relationships were shown again and again, with light shone on the differences between how men and women (and by extension the powerful and powerless) view the same situation.

The resolution was gorgeous – filled with agency, strength and good sense that showed how wonderful female power is.

I’ll be watching out for more from this very talented writer!

Katy Haye’s Dragon Thief is out now. If you like forbidden magic, dragons and a romance strewn with obstacles, Dragon Thief is the book for you!

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