by E.K. Johnston
Published: October 6, 2015 by DISNEY HYPERION
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (October 6, 2015)
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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."She was not my kind, yet there was some power to her that was not human, not quite. She did not die, and I wondered if I might at last have found a queen for whom I could set the desert on fire.” (ARC)
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 might legitimately one of the most lyrical books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Desperately brave, terrifyingly strong, and strangely accepting of her fate- whatever it may be- the main character strives to not only save her sister from certain death at the hands of her would-be husband, but all the lives of the girls the ruler may have married. In this book, most of the characters are addressed by their title. I didn’t notice it though the novel, but when I put it down I realized I didn’t know the main character’s name. I only knew her as hope, empowerment, savior, magical, and born to be queen. This is her story: the story of how her one decision and her refusal to be anything less than daring changed the course of the world as we know it. *coughs* Also the evil dude is sexy as hell. See that quotes conveniently placed at the top? Although it was taken a bit too literally-- *sighs all the sighs* He kind of reminds me of The Darkling. And goodness gracious is The Darkling just everything…everything. *swoons*
Since that first part of this lovely little review talked so much about the character I liked the best, let’s move on to the setting. Which I am in awe of. Setting consists of the cultural background, as well as the physical surroundings. Both of which I am just in complete amazement of. Seriously, girl, how did you do that? Tell me your secrets. Set in the Middle East (or at least a place like it) all the reader sees is sand, and in the far off distance, a mountain. Hot and dry, survival is impressive in this world. Goodness, there is no way I would want to live there (no, not even if I was made queen. I don’t think they have air conditioning. That would be seriously problematic) but I still think that it sounds just completely spell-binding. I mean, honestly, who wouldn’t? Living in tents and perching on plush rugs, riding camels and shopping in bazars. I just think that sounds so freaking cool. Not literally. As I mentioned before, they’re in a desert. It’s hot, hot, hot. But it’s also magical. The dry kind of magic that they all know is there and, you guessed it, can set the desert on fire.
They worship smallgods. Smallgods are a bit like Saints in Catholic faith. They can be regular people who do extraordinary things. Such as sacrificing yourself in place of your sister to a demon who likes killing his wives while in a human host bosy. Real friendly dude. See?-extraordinary.
Through this book, there are things of the paranormal nature, and this book is very loosely based on 1001 Nights. I really liked how the whole discovery of power, good and evil concepts played out. Super well done. Actually kind of believable. Trapped inside his own body, the true ruler is the host for a demon who basically wants to set the world on fire. He (the demon) has the ability to made people more impassioned in their work. Work quicker and harder. With more purpose. What I though was fantastic (even more than everything else) was how even in a society where women are the domestic sort, they do have the power. I don’t actually know how to explain it. *chuckles* Men would come and go and walk around like they ruled the world, but, in all actuality, it’s a woman’s world. A wife bowed her head when she knew she won a fight to save her husband’s pride. A girl has the power to save or destroy the world. The choice is hers to make, if she is willing.
Overall, although it wasn’t a five star read, I can’t recommend this book enough. It really is pretty amazing. And worth swooning over.