“If you listen long enough to the whispers, you will hear the truth. Until then, I will tell you this: the world is made safe by a woman. She bound the monster up and cast him out, and the man who was left was saved.”
I picked this one up from my elibrary this morning. Finished it in one day, it wasn’t a terribly challenging read, but the content is very moving. It’s a retelling of the Arabian Nights story, where a man kills all of his wives, until one begins telling him stories before he goes to bed. She never finishes them that night, leaving him to keep her alive to hear the ending the next morning. This keeps her alive longer than any of his other wives. However, this retelling involves demons, two badass sisters, and a stone carver. Needless to say, I was very into it.
My Rating: A
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
My Thoughts: I am a big fan of retellings. This one in particular is fascinating. It takes place in what I imagined to be an Arabian Kingdom. The evil king, Lo-Mekhiin has killed every single girl he has married, until he arrives at our main characters village. She goes in place of her sister, the lovlier one, and she handles it like a BOSS. She wins the heart of basically everyone in the Court. The strange part is they all acknowledge that their king is evil, but because he has brought such prosperity to their lands, they are all willing to ignore it. I think it is something that we can all learn from, that we cannot be bystanders.
What I Liked: The main character is phenomenal, though we never really know her name. She is strong, intelligent and crafty. She doesn’t back down in the face of fear, she doesn’t let it control her. The relationship between her and her sister, who battles for her and basically keeps her alive. They fight for each other. It’s a true and good representation of a strong and healthy female relationship.
What I Disliked: The book is a little slow. The pacing is rough to the point where none of the serious action happens until the end. Basically I spent the entire book in tension waiting for this evil demon king to get his ass whooped. I did get what I wanted, after a long and paitent read.
Would I recommend it? Yes, it’s a great retelling. And it’s empowering.
Is this book on your to-read list? How do you feel about arranged marriages? How about fairy-tale retellings?