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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale

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.

Oh my, what a wonderful read. It IS adventure, drama, romance—and fantasy all rolled into one. What a beautiful way to show that strength is found in so many different places. I think the real “surprise” in the story is Lady Saren, and how through her actions, Dashti is made into a stronger person—because someone has to be. There’s the amazing twist at the end, that you aren’t expecting—so very different from the typical fairy tale ending that all the retellings of Grimms fairy tales tend to ascribe to. The arrangement is a really wonderful way to do this—the diary of a girl who probably isn’t supposed to be able to keep one let alone have one.

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