Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
This is a fairy tale. Basically. What I mean by that is, expect a story but don't expect characters with a whole lot of depth. Go with the flow of magical fuzziness of the story and don't get overly picky and examine every little detail for logic and concrete answers.
The desert atmosphere is palpable—languid and heavy like a hot summer day, but comfortable and easy to sink into like a warm summer night. The visuals of the story were captivating and kept me coming back for more.
Even though it wasn't hard to figure out what was going to happen (because, fairy tale), I was still invested in watching the story unfold. The pace isn't fast at all and the events are more of a quiet, steady strength and dreamy story weaving type. I found it very easy to put the book down for days at a time, but I also always felt compelled to pick it back up again.
Thankfully, this is a standalone and the ending wrapped things up nicely. This isn't a swoony book and there actually isn't any romance. The focus is entirely on the nameless main character, and she isn't BFF material for me because she's more of a character representation (like a fairy tale) than a fully fleshed out character. I almost felt more of a connection to her sister because she described her sister so often (her sister gets a mini romance). Still, I did like the main character.
There's a lot to think about with this story. There are Messages. Feminism, stylistic writing themes, romance, goodness and evil, relationships, and other weighty topics are explored in ways that were deep without ever being oppressive. You can just read the book as a straight story and enjoy it on that level, or you can look between the explicit story and explore deeper. It's up to the reader, which is how I like Messages to be presented.
Recommended for readers who liked Tiger Lily or Toads and Diamonds. Not really recommended for readers who want lots of action and BFF characters and swoony romance. I usually fall into the latter group, but I appreciated A Thousand Nights enough that I'm glad I read it, even though I probably wouldn't re-read it. I could see this having adult crossover appeal, but probably not middle grade crossover appeal.
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