January 31, 2013

Book of a Thousand Days - Shannon Hale

Book of a Thousand Days book cover
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: December 1, 2008
Source/Format: Bought || Kindle e-book

When Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress, are shut in a tower for seven years for Saren’s refusal to marry a man she despises, the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment.

As food runs low and the days go from broiling hot to freezing cold, it is all Dashti can do to keep them fed and comfortable. But the arrival outside the tower of Saren’s two suitors—one welcome, and the other decidedly less so—brings both hope and great danger, and Dashti must make the desperate choices of a girl whose life is worth more than she knows. (from Goodreads)

Book of a Thousand Days is the second fairytale retelling that I read for It Takes Two this month, and I really enjoyed it! Unlike Tiger Lily, this story still played out like a fairytale, complete with a heroine you could root for, a handsome hero and the requisite happily ever after. While it certainly took some time for things to pick up, I enjoyed my experience with this book from start to finish.

The main narrator of this story is Dashti, who is the girl writing down this story in her own private journal. It was clever of the author to use this perspective, as it allows us to have an insider’s look at Dashti’s thoughts straightaway. We ultimately get a very strong sense of who she is and what her past looks like; we also get immediate access to Dashti’s experiences and feelings at the present moment. Plus, thanks to the occasional sketch, we also get a visual of certain characters and moments in the book!

I definitely rooted for Dashti because I loved how she tried to stay true to herself and her beliefs, even though it wasn’t always easy. While she certainly was not benevolent all the time (and she admits it), there’s a lot to admire about her. She’s got strength to her, both physically and internally, that I aspire to have myself. She cares and loves and remains loyal without question to the people she calls friend or family. I loved that she was this underdog character (a servant to the princess), but she eventually found a way to shine by using her own skills.

Dashti is also a mucker, and I thought that was an extremely fascinating concept. Muckers are not healers, per se, but they have the ability to soothe hurts and aches and ailments through the power of song. Sometimes, I could sense how perfectly the song would help with an ailment; other times, I didn’t understand and thought it was nonsense. It was interesting to see how this skill set that Dashti had proved to be useful throughout the entire tale. 

There’s a lot of craziness that happens within these pages. To begin with, Lady Saren (who I’m SO not a fan of) and Dashti are locked up in a tower for seven years – and that’s crazy enough. Then, kingdoms are overrun and razed to the ground, and Dashti sacrifices a great many things in obedience to her duty and what she thinks is right – but everything fit together well. This story is, after all, a fairytale, and in fairytales, the impossible is always possible. Even though it seemed a little fanciful, I just went along with it, and certainly enjoyed it along the way.

The important thing, to me, is that there’s a happy ending. I love a happy ending – who doesn’t? I wasn’t sure how things would work out for these characters that I loved, but I’m very, very happy with what the author chose to do. Honestly, I ended up closing this book with a very satisfied feeling because there’s an actually happily ever after.

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read Book of a Thousand Days. It fits the bill for a fairytale retelling, as it takes the classic story of Maid Maleen (which I only realized I knew after I’d read the book) and purloins elements to create this fabulous new tale. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in this book, and I can highly recommend this to fellow fans of fairytale retellings and happily ever afters.

 This review was posted as part of It Takes Two.
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  1. I loved this book so much. I was surprised with how much I enjoyed it. It did take a little to really get into it, but it was worth it. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it.

  2. Oh I love this book :-) glad to see you reviewing it. Makes me want to reread it because its been years since I read it.

  3. The whole mucker concept sounds pretty interesting. And there's a happy ending? Even better! I feel like too many of my current reads have ended on a sad tone or cliffhanger. It would be nice to get something a little more hopeful for a change. :) Lovely review!

  4. I definitely need to read Book Of A Thousand Days, mainly because Shannon Hale is the best. BUT also, you mention being satisfied with the ending and that's a huge deal to me, I cannot abide a bad ending.

  5. I feel terrible admitting this, but I've never read any Shanon Hale books! This sounds like something I would like, though, so I guess I should remedy that!

  6. I have never read her books but I picked this up YEARS ago at a book sale for like 50 cents. Perhaps I shall pick it up now that I know it's good!

  7. I love a good fairy tale retelling, and I'm a sucker for happy endings. Sounds like I need to read this! I think I downloaded it ages ago when it was on sale, so I'm out of excuses. :-) Great review!

  8. I read this book ages ago and forgot how much I liked it. Reading this makes me want to go pick it up again!

  9. Hehe, I'm a sick sick person who sometimes likes unhappy endings...or rather, not sad endings so much as open endings or bittersweet ones. But I totally know what you mean, sometimes I just CRAVE a HEA, and Shannon Hale's such a great place to turn! So happy you enjoyed this one, it's certainly on my TBR.


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