(This review is spoiler free. I don’t even mention the plot.)
I have read quite a few good reviews of Book of a Thousand Days, by the wonderful Shannon Hale so I was expecting good things.
It was better than I could have ever hoped for. It was perfect.
It was a story that made you forget every story you have ever read before. I had no idea what was going to happen with the characters–I was reading something new and raw, with no expectations. I read as if it were the only book that existed in the world.
Why? Because of Dashti. Dashti is the author of the book. The book is her journal. I usually end up understanding characters, relating to them, and liking them. I loved Dashti. I loved her as if she were my best friend, as if she were my sister. As if she were real. I’ve read many books and stories where the characters are real, but I haven’t loved them as I have loved Dashti. I loved Lady Saren as Dashti loved her. I knew these people and I became a part of their world.
The setting was magnificent. Gone with the Western norm, this was set in a world based off of Asia. Gone was the cliched magic of fantasy books. It was Shannon Hale magic in its best: subtle, gentle, feminine, beautiful.
The voice and tone were Dashti. The words were so different from what many books are, but the newness and rawness of the words became part of me. There was beauty, and there was deep, deep sadness in the book. I have never read a book that so adequately portrayed the sadness of life and war–it could have been real. This never seemed like a world of fiction, ever, it was real. Instead of pretty heroines with feisty attitudes, the book offered something heartfelt, real, and full of inner beauty.
I love Book of a Thousand Days. Wow. Wow. Wow. Please read it. It isn’t an enjoyable, fun read. It isn’t something that you laugh through and are entertained. You do laugh, but it is the deep laugh that comes from sadness. You cry, but it is because you are happy. You see these characters and you join them and can weep for them, laugh with them, and rejoice with them. This book is what any book should aspire to be.