Book of a Thousand Days
I held her and sang to her and let our dinner burn on the fire, and all the while she shook and cried dry tears, her mouth hanging open. I’ve never seen a person cry like that, with real fear. She made my blood shiver. I wish I knew what ails her, but perhaps it’s too soon. Mama used to say, you have to know someone a thousand days before you can glimpse her soul.
Lady Saren has been imprisoned, along with her maid Dashti, locked in a dark tower for seven years by her own father. Her crime was refusing to marry Lord Khasar of the neighboring Thoughts of Under, saying that she has already accepted Khan Tegus, ruler of another realm. Her father believes it important that his daughter marry Khasar in order to align their kingdoms and is furious at Saren for disobeying.
After a month of being locked up in the darkness of the tower, Khan Tegus sneaks past the guards to speak with Lady Saren. Mysteriously, Lady Saren refuses and asks Dashti to talk in her place. With only a small slit in the tower, they begin to form a relationship, although he is being deceived, not knowing that it is Dashti he is speaking with and not Lady Saren. Soon Tegus has to return to his home, but promises to come back and rescue Saren. In his absence, the cruel Lord Khasar comes to the tower and begins to torment the girls. Along with rats in the cellar, no natural light, a dwindling food supply and many long days spent inside, the tower walls begin to creep in on the two girls. After a wolf attack, all life outside of the tower seems to vanish. Now, their only hope is the strong-willed Dashti to find a way out of the tower. But one question remains - what lies beyond the tower walls?
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale is a fantastic read. I picked it up for Carl’s Once Upon a Time challenge and read it in two days time. Hale has a way of turning old Grimm fairy tales into compulsively readable books. Full of wonders like holy men who are thought to have the power to transform themselves into animals, to the beautiful healing songs that Dashti herself has a gift for singing, Book of a Thousand Days is a wonderful little gem to be found in the Young Adult section.
The book is written in diary form by Dashti, a character that develops from a terribly naive child to a determined, resourceful and courageous young women. As with so many of Hale’s heroines (including Ani from The Goose Girl) Dashti is a strong female character, something I like to see in Young Adult fiction. I loved the diary format where Dashti shares her most intimate thoughts in written form.
Even if you’ve never read fantasy before, I urge you to give this book a try. It’s a great story told by a skilled storyteller.