“Book of a Thousand Days” by Shannon Hale
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Re-Telling
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
With Shannon Hale’s lyrical language, this forgotten but classic fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm is reimagined and reset on the central Asian steppes; it is a completely unique retelling filled with adventure and romance, drama and disguise.
Shannon Hale does it again! This book is so lovely. I know I was initially hesitant to read the book because how exciting can a book be when it’s set in a tower for 7 years? I was pleasantly surprised by how Hale kept it fresh. We spend the first third of the book locked in the tower for over two years with Dashti and Saren. You’d be surprised at what you can learn about people in such a confined environment. We see Saren deal with depression and hopelessness about her situation. We see Dashti show her optimism through everything. Most people would never agree to be locked into a tower for 7 years but Dashti viewed it as a blessing. She was going to be guaranteed food, shelter, and a job for 7 years as well as serving a noble lady.
The book obviously gets more exciting once they leave the tower. Once they were out, I never knew where the story would go. I’d hope that Saren would wise up and marry her Khan but that’s not a very exciting. Instead, I had to settle for Dashti and Saren living close to happiness and security but never achieving it. I wouldn’t even call it settling because there was a good deal of drama and mysteriousness to keep the story engrossing.
This was an interesting take on a fairy tale. I’m not familiar with the original story at all but for the most part the story doesn’t feel like a fairy tale. I actually quite liked that it was pretty firmly rooted in historical fiction. Only at the end do we get the fairy tale feel with just a touch of fantasy. It’s just enough to get the story where it needs to go. The ending was sickeningly sweet but I adored it. I think it’s just what the characters deserved and I needed.
The bottom line? Don’t wait to read this! It’s quite wonderful.