22nd October 2015, MacMillan Children's Books, 256 pages, Ebook, Review copy from NetGalley
Content: mild romance, magic, danger, tissue needed
Summary from Pan MacMillan
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife.
When Lo-Melkhiin - a formidable king - arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice - leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man.
But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king . . . if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.
I've always been in awe of the concept behind the original Arabian nights, and E K takes the famous tale, retelling it in a more magical way than the original (which I've read a bit of thanks to Penguin Classics). It's a slightly different style of book to the kind I'd usually read, but I was captivated from the first page. The strength, courage and sheer determination which the un-named protagonist has. She does everything to save her sister because she feels that she (not her sister) is more dispensable.
The magic is woven into a story in a way that made it easy to both understand and believe – and trust me when I say some of the situations are more than a little strange! I have to smile as unusually I've peeked at other reviews, some which aren't impressed by the lack of a strong romance. Me? I loved it!
The protagonist does develop feelings for her new husband, to some extent, which are sweet and subtle. I loved how she gets treated in the palace, the longer she is a live the more the reserved servants start to relax just a little bit. Her desert life was beyond harsh, but I think it's part of what made her able to survive Lo-Melkiin's normally deadly power. She goes from being an ordinary desert girl to a lady that an incredible amount of people revere.
The customs of her people were fascinating to learn about, especially the smallgods, and once finished I wanted to reread it straight away. I hope this becomes an audiobook! It is amazing, and has definitely worked its magic on me.
Find out more on E K's website.
Available to pre-order from bookstores including NRC affiliate Foyles.
For a book filled with mystery and involving the protagonist being away from her family is Florence by Ciye Cho (Young Adult, 9/10E)