Quick Review: Book of a Throusand Days, by Shannon Hale
Book of a Thousand Days is a retelling of a little-know fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm called "Maid Maleen" (you can read the online annotated tale HERE) and tells the story of Dashti, a maid, and her mistress Saren, who are locked away in a tower for seven years, and their adventures after through the land of The Eight Realms.
This book is a quick and simple read for middle-grade readers, but would still please many who are older. What I like a lot about Shannon Hale's books, is her ability to quickly build worlds without lengthy descriptions, that come to life and feal real, full of magic and cultural details. This book is set in an imagined land inspired by Central Asia, especially Mongolia, and revolves mostly around two of the eight realms of this land. Dashti, the narrator, is also what they call a mucker, people from the steppes, whose culture is full of healing songs and lyrics, that she uses throughout the book. I could really believe in her roots and the land she inhabited. I could see these cities and believe in their Gods and Goddesses. The book is told in diary form, from Dashti's point of view, and her voice is simple (sometimes too simple), but often engaging. It's a tale of survival and love and mystery, but mostly it is a tale of loyalty. Saren is not an easy mistress, she is fragile and broken and fearful, refusing to do many things, prone to crying and shaking. She is wounded by something, and it is only toward the end of the book that we understand why. But always Dahsti cares for her, sing to her, and protects her.
I cared about the story, but I must say it took me a while to care about the characters, especially Dashti. She was brave and honorable, but too complient at the beginning (which is understandable from a servant, but still). She did eventually raised up to her full potential and I was literally cheering for her at the conclusion and climax of the story. In the end, though, I just wanted more. More details, more adventures, more substance. But this is a middle-grade book, more similar to Shannon Hale's Princess Academy, than her Books of Bayern series. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it a lot, and had great time reading it.