Friday, August 12, 2011

REVIEW: Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

After Dashti, the mucker (a person who heals through song) is left alone after her mother passes, she learns the skills of a maid and is placed in the household of the Lady Saren. When Saren refuses to marry the horrid Lord Khasar because she loves another, her father punishes her by walling her and her maid Dashti up in a tower for seven years. When food starts to run low, Dashti knows that she and her lady must escape or die.

Told in diary format, Dashti recounts her imprisonment in the tower with Lady Saren.  This is a retelling of the Brother's Grimm fairytale Maid Maleen, only Shannon Hale has put a whole new spin on it by moving it to the Asian Steppes.

I loved the character of Dashti from the very beginning.  No one could relish the thought of being shut up in a tower for seven years but loyal Dashti volunteers to endure the punishment alongside her lady.  Lady Saren is caught between two suitors-the despised Lord Khasar who rules by fear and the gentle Khan Tegus whom she has already promised to marry.  Both visit the ladies while they are in the tower-Khasar to scare Saren into marrying him and Tegus to find a way to rescue her.  Lady Saren withdraws into herself while in the tower and commands Dashti to pretend to be her when speaking with Tegus which leads to some interesting situations.

It soon becomes apparent that the food that was supposed to last seven years is not going to last that long at all.  Again Dashti's courage comes into play and she never abandons the increasingly withdrawn and addled Lady Saren.  I will not reveal if they made it out of the tower but I will say the story which is full of love and adventure kept my attention the whole way through.  The only thing that kept me from giving the book a higher rating was predictability.  I figured out the true nature of Lord Khasar well before the end and also the love story element ended pretty much as I thought it would.  This is still a good story though and perfect for a YA audience.  I don't think anyone could read this and not absolutely love Dashti.  Although I never would have picked it up if it hadn't been for a reading challenge, I'm glad I did.  Now I will have to go dig out my Brother's Grimm Fairy tales and read the story of Maid Maleen to compare. 

  I borrowed this book from the library.

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