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Book of a Thousand Days

1. Author: Shannon Hale

2. Title: Book of a Thousand Days

3. Publisher: Thorndike Press

4. URL: http://www.squeetus.com/stage/main.html

5. Number of Pages: 323

6. About the Book: Synopsis from the author, “Dashti, a maid, and her mistress, Lady Saren, are shut in a tower for seven years because of Saren’s refusal to marry a man she despises, and the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment. When Saren’s two suitors arrive outside the tower, the girls are confronted with both hope and great danger. With Shannon Hale’s lyrical language, this little-known 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.”

This story, just as the synopsis says is about two girls bricked into a tower for seven years. Only the lady’s maid can even write, and the story is basically her journal of the events of her life slightly before and after the time she and her mistress are imprisoned in a tower. She writes about some truly horrific things that happen to her and her mistress and how she tries to resolve the issues that they face. When Lady Saren and Dashti are finally free of the tower, the adventure doesn’t stop there. Both have to then deal with what they are going to do with their lives.

7. Opinion: Normally I like Shannon Hale’s work. She doesn’t make things over complicated when she invents her own worlds, and as a reader I can understand her characters and plot. But this book was different. Shannon Hale borrows heavily from Mongolian religion and culture, but without an explanation for the reader. She refers to different belief systems and social standing that as a Westerner I have great difficulty understanding. You have to have an understanding and working knowledge of how nomadic people in Mongolian live, as well as their myths and legends to understand some of the things that the characters say and that influence their actions. I would have enjoyed the story, as I have read and enjoyed many of the Grimm fairy tales and legends, but for the issues I have mentioned above. Another point of contention is how the characters act; sometimes they act in a very typical “western fashion”, speaking their mind, acting on what they believe in and so one. But at other times there is a very obvious slave and master mentality, between the two main characters. Dashti often obeys, just because she believes she has to in her culture, and other times she suddenly decides she doesn’t want to.

The laws and traditions are not clearly explained, as Dashti goes to trial for obeying her mistress. The laws they apply aren't any I am familiar with. If I had a clue as to which group of people Shannon Hale characters are from, (Mongolia is just a guess), then maybe I would be able to understand her story and form a better connection with what I was reading. Overall, from what I have read of her previous work, I would give this story a two out of ten. I truly think she could have done much better. I won’t be recommending this story.

Hale, S. ( 2007). Book of a thousand days. Detroit: Thorndike Press.