Must-read YA: 'A Thousand Nights' by E.K. Johnston (and interview!)
By Jessie Potts October 8, 2015
What it’s about (courtesy of Disney Hyperion):
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.
Why you should read it: This was a strange and enjoyable read. I say strange because the narrative and style of writing are very unique. I enjoyed the anonymous characters as well as the brilliant setting. I know there are a few retellings out there, but I don’t think you can really compare. If you have time for a slow build, if you’re a fan of detail and prose, this is absolutely the story for you. I think this would be really interesting as an audiobook! Can I recommend Emma Galvin and her smoky voice?
INTERVIEW WITH E.K. JOHNSTON
I loved the anonymity with everyone. How/why did you choose to do that?
E.K.: I never really think of them as anonymous! Each character has a name from every person who loves them (which is why the king only has “the king,” for example). In my head, the narrator calls her sister “my SISTER,” and her sister says “MY sister,” and the difference in their inflection gives a completely distinguishable word. I suppose from a practical standpoint I went with honorifics because Middle Bronze Age names are difficult to extrapolate, but I loved getting to “translate” most of the names into English. It’s the opposite of how we usually name characters (my name, for example, is Greek for “pure,” and no one’s ever called me that).
What are you currently working on?
E.K.: I’m just about to dive into revisions for the Nights companion novel, actually. So I can’t tell you too much about it...
READ the rest at http://happyeverafter.usatoday.com/2015/10/08/jessie-potts-ya-romance-rec-interview-thousand-nights-ek-johnston/. You can follow Jessie Potts on twitter (@BookTaster).