cover image A Thousand Nights

A Thousand Nights

E.K. Johnston. Hyperion, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4847-2227-5

Inspired by the Scheherazade story, Johnston (Prairie Fire) introduces a nameless 17-year-old heroine who takes her sister's place as wife to a murderous king. Thanks to her sister's prayers%E2%80%94channeled through an original magic system by which revered ancestors become "smallgods" through the worship of their descendants%E2%80%94she acquires godlike powers while still living. As she struggles to survive her marriage and adapt to city life, she discovers that the king, Lo-Melkhiin, is possessed by a demon fascinated by her newfound powers. Johnston creates a memorable world populated by craft-obsessed demons who prey on humans by forcing them to create art even as it destroys them. The power of sisterhood, both literal and figurative, gives the protagonist the strength to stand between her people and total destruction. Though the ending is slightly rushed, the focus on female solidarity and worth in a male-dominated world, along with the ethical questions raised as the heroine's magic alters the course of her sister's life, make this a powerful read. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. Agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. (Oct.)