A Thousand Nights

by E.K. Johnston

“Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village looking... read more

“Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village looking for a wife.” Determined to save her older sister from being ruler Lo-Melkhiin’s next victim, the narrator of this story makes sure she is the one Lo-Melkhiin chooses as his bride. Few have survived more than a short time, but she does, already in possession of magic Lo-Melkhiin cannot understand because it is rooted in love. Because of the young woman’s sacrifice, her sister and other women in her village turn her into a living smallgod, and her power grows. In the qasr where Lo-Melkhiin lives, she bears the title of queen and becomes part of the warp and weft of daily life, forming bonds with other women, whose creativity and forbearance are the foundations of the kingdom, and making a few friends among men. Because she can see Lo-Melkhiin’s past, she knows he wasn’t always evil but returned from one of his trips to the desert possessed by a demon. She can also see the spot in the corner of his mind where she suspects the real Lo-Melkhiin remains. The voice of the demon occasionally speaks in this novel and his cruelty and contempt for the man he possesses, for women, for all humanity is palpable. But his arrogance blinds him to the young woman’s strength and her power to create in E. K. Johnston’s vivid tale set in the Pre-Islamic Middle East. Lush with detail, it is an original, strongly feminist offering. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016

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