Profile of E.K. Johnston on many platforms online states that she has had many jobs before becoming a writer and one of those is an archaeologist…I do think it is awesome that she has done that, but I also think that it is not fair that it is mentioned in manner it is. I feel like that is one of the professions (or jobs, if you will) you never actually leave. You might not be a cashier after leaving the job, but you still are an archaeologist even if you leave it, it has an aura, something unspeakable to it. And it made me realize, that I might not work in history (which I studied and what I used to did), but I still love it and it is in many aspects of my life that I don’t even notice, because it is a part of me. It also reminded my dreamy searches for some starter archaeologist jobs, but that is enough already about me. So, what I am trying to say is that her work in A Thousand Nights and picture on goodreads says that she is both – a writer and an archaeologist.
A Thousand Nights first was published last year and by now already a spin off, called Spindle is announced. But this book takes us to desert, to follow a young and nameless heroine, who does something that no one has even imagined to do – she volunteers for the most terrible event her land has seen for too many times in the past years because she wants to protect, help and change. And it sets things in motion that haven’t moved in years. The author brilliantly pictures the traditions and order in the desert for those who are not familiar with it and just weaves a story of moral and magic together to leave you thinking.
The cover, in my opinion, is beautiful, but misleading (I’m referring here the American cover). It promises you a young adult love story based on a fairy tale. I cannot say anything about the fairy tale part, as I haven’t read the original story, but I can definitely say that most traditional young adult book lovers will not like this book. Why? Because it is for adults. (And sadly I add myself to the adult pile.) I haven’t also read the wrath and dawn (whatsitsname?) thing, so I will not be comparing the two of them.
The story in this book is not the most important thing, it is the actions, beliefs and morals as well as that little door that the author leaves for you to decide what happened and why it did so. I don’t want to call it a masterpiece, but it was really good. It is actually readers decisions that define the book.
The author speaks both about the equality of a man and and woman and also the equality of the good and bad. Many people have called this book feminist, although I have never thought of myself as a feminist, I did suddenly realize that the situation I live in, has a lot of feminists behind it.
I expected a love story, but instead got a true unpredictable book with some goofs and lots of thinking in it. The language was flowing and as I am not much familiar with the setting, it did everything for me – set the scene, mood and environment. So I am not one to judge for the correct way of describing it, but the author definitely did it for me. I have heard that many people were unhappy about not having personification and names, and said that the characters are not important because of that, but it is just another reminder of how it could be anyone and how those nameless heroes live and do heroic deeds around us. I know you might think it is a far stretch, but I found this book to be about exactly that.
It is hard to tell my favourite character, I actually think that it might be Lo-Melkhiin, the dual emotions in him and plotting (as well as tries to understand what is going to hap pen next) did seem interesting, but I didn’t like his finesse, which really did throw me off. Yet again – it was planned of course, but I had a hard time to separate his actions from appreciating the character.
I wasn’t a fan of the sister of the main heroine (unlike others), so she most likely was my least favourite character.
I did make some comparison with the existing protagonists that have (Catniss) or haven’t (America) volunteered and we all know about and yet, this was nothing at all like it, because there was no romance and love, there was nothing that teenagers are touched by and it was so different that I felt really happy that I picked it up.
This paragraph contains a big spoiler, so don’t read it, if you haven’t read the book.
I liked the separation between the demon’s and the main heroine’s (I feel like I want to call her sister) story, but I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t get the demon’s chapter at the end. Even fearful, that perhaps he fooled us all and is still there, just hiding and growing again.
End of spoilers, go ahead, you can read again.
Yet there were bad things as well, sometimes the events didn’t exactly seem to make sense and the places left ‘blank’ made me think, if it was a genius scheme by the author or just a mistake she didn’t notice and it wasn’t actually meant for the reader to have these deep thoughts and I just pushed them out of nowhere (or out of a mistake). Yet I am indeed interested to check out the Johnston’s duo-logy and to check out more of her stories to see, if this great introduction to her work will become a lasting love.
As I said before, I wouldn’t recommend this book for the lovers of traditional teenage romance and young adult books, because this is not one of them, but I would recommend it to adults, it is a nice, catching and fast read, which received four stars from me on my goodreads page.