Author: E.K. Johnston
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.
Again, I feel as if I need to preface my review by letting you know about my complete ignorance when it comes to the original tale of 1001 nights. Sure, I know the basic plot, but I’ve never read the original, so I read this book more as an original story than a retelling. That is likely a hindrance to my understanding and appreciation, because I thus find this novel extremely slow paced, difficult to get invested in, and parts of it difficult to understand.
For example, the entire smallgod and demon aspect of the novel is pretty much lost on me. Yes, I realize that there is apparently a species/colony of demons out in the desert, hell bent on using the humans as pawns in their own schemes. And yes, I understand that our heroine narrator (it took me so long to read this novel I can’t even remember her name to save my life) asks her sister (step sister, I guess, technically, since she is a sister from another woman married to her father, ugh) to pray to the smallgods for her and that smallgods have powers in this world. I sort of got all that, but I just couldn’t get invested in the plot and the characters because these elements made it nearly impossible to suspend my disbelief. Couple the fantasy/paranormal elements with the fact that the plot is extremely slow to develop, only picking up in about the last 25% of the story, and it was a chore to get through this novel.
Character development isn’t well done either, since the main characters are really only developed through their magical powers for the most part. Yes, I admire the main character for fooling the ruler into believing she is her sister in order to save her sister from his evil tyranny, but other than that she doesn’t have many redeeming qualities, other than the fact that she refuses to cower to Lo-Melkhiin and thus forces him to deal with her head on. All her development stems for the aspect of smallgod power, and that part, again, was difficult to get into it since it’s hard to believe.
The ending is also incredibly lackluster and anti-climatic. After such a drawn out and slowly paced plot, I at least hoped that the book would end with a bang. But it’s more a firework with a long fuse that, when the fire finally reaches the body, fizzles out as a dud instead of exploding into the sky.
So while it isn’t badly written and though the book actually got a bit interesting about 3/4 of the way through, I still have a hard time recommending it since it took me nearly a month to finish and I almost gave up a few times.