young adult • fantasy • retelling
“I fear him as I fear the desert sun and poisonous snakes. They are all part of the life I live. But the sun gives light, and snakes will feed a caravan if they are caught and cooked.”
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.
This is the second A Thousand and One Night retelling that I’ve read this year. Though the premise was really good, I felt it lacked many things in the execution. The story was fast paced and consist of so many flashbacks that sometimes didn’t really add up to the story and left a big hole to what really matters. I finished the book with so many questions left unanswered.
First, I would like to know more about the world in the story. I want to know how they run things, how people felt about all the girls died marrying Lo-Melkhin, was there a lot of magic there or not, and much more. But like I said, the main character’s flashbacks and visions are taking too much space in this book. Don’t get me wrong, I know very well that the original A Thousand and One Nights was all about the tale and the stories. But in this book, I didn’t really care about the main character’s sister or father’s father’s father’s story. I did at first actually, but after a while it just got boring and I stopped caring.
The characters were purposely told without names. The only name that were mentioned in the story was Lo-Melkhiin and the rest were just “my sister”, “my father”, or their titles. I personally didn’t think that it’s that annoying, but somehow I felt disconnected with the characters. The main character was not really believable. I really would like to read more emotion from her. I want to feel when she was afraid, when she was shocked having all the magic inside her or when she missed her family. And I don’t personally believe that a girl who left her happy family that she constantly had wouldn’t feel afraid confronting a murderer in so far as marrying one.
The climax didn’t really worth the wait. It was too fast and too easy. It would have been really good if the main character have a more strategic and tricky plot of how to deal with Lo-Melkhiin instead of a one time action that she easily won.
There weren’t any romance felt in the story. l started reading this in a hope that somehow in the end of the story the main character and Lo-Melkhiin will have fall in love with each other’s mystery. But as disconnected I was with the characters, the chemistry of both the main lead wasn’t there also. The romance was implied though, but I was hoping for much more.
So overall, this book didn’t really meet my expectation. I could see how people would like this book but I was so hyped up when I first saw this book that my expectation was built so high that it affected my opinion on this book.
I received a digital copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review thanks to Disney Book Group and NetGalley.