By: E.K. Johnston
Published: October 6, 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: Netgalley ARC from publisher
(Goodreads / Amazon)
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.MY REVIEW:
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.
Oh. Boy. This was in one word: odd. The cover and the summary both intrigued me, the fact that it seemed to be a retelling but I was incredibly WRONG on which story it was retelling, and at the time of requesting an ARC copy on Netgalley the overall rating on Goodreads was 4 stars, so I figured it was worth a shot. I'm gonna go out on a short limb to say that there is mixed feelings on this book among the reviews I've briefly glimpsed. I've read that some readers love it and sing it's praises and then others that were more of the "meh" feeling. I probably fall closer to the "meh".
These three recurring thoughts came in to my head while reading this:
1. This feels like I'm reading a book written by Yoda (or the Dalai Lama or someone equally wise with their words). Sentences like "she that he chose of us..." and other strangely worded thoughts.
2. Everything seems to be told in riddles...and I don't care to figure the riddles out.
3. This is so weird...
My sister-n-law who probably fell closer to the "I loved it" side, asked me if I had picked up on the fact that the main character's name, whose POV the story is being told from, is never mentioned? At about 30% through when she asked me that I had not picked up on it. The main character is only referred to by others as "Lady-Bless", "Wife", "My Queen", "Daughter of My Heart", etc...
The story is about a girl who sacrifices herself to save her sister. She dresses as her sister would and is taken to be the new wife of the king. Seeing as how 300 girls before her were taken to be his wife, and all have been killed, she knows she is saving her sister from imminent death and taking her place instead. Most of the wives never made it past the first night, but soon she finds herself alive morning after morning.
The longer she is alive the more she learns about who the king used to be. His own mother even opens up about her son. At 27 years old, he used to be kindhearted and thoughtful and the people didn't always fear him. The girl, who is now the queen, at 17 years old, is trying to keep herself alive but also trying to learn more about this strange man and the place she now lives.
Even at the end of the book I thought I had understood what was being told but I wouldn't bet money on that. Imagine a highly respected wise elder sitting around a campfire telling a story, and no one can guess if the story being told is real, made-up, or a combination of both. Well, that's how I felt at the end of the story.
This one quote from the book summarized well what the story is about:
"You've been fighting a war since you decided to take your sister's place. Only keep fighting it now, and we shall see who stands at the end - demons or smallgods."
Since there are aspects of magic, good versus evil and overall fantasy, readers who enjoy these themes and who like stories worded more like wise sayings or riddles may enjoy this.
"Life is too short to pull out olive pits, when spitting them is so much more fun."
"They only seek to know, not to think." ... "a knowing mind is a closed one."
"love makes poets of us all."
Language Rating: 0 (none)
Mature Content Rating: 0 (none)
Final Rating: 3 stars