Donna's Reviews > Book of a Thousand Days

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
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Sep 18, 12

bookshelves: audiobook, 2012-read, fantasy-fiction, young-adult, unputdownable, fairy-tale
Read from February 24 to 29, 2012

One of my favorite books as a kid was an illustrated version of the Grimm's Fairy Tales. "Maid Maleen" was one of my favorite stories from the selection and I've always thought it was an extremely underrated tale. It tells the story of a princess who gets shut into a tower by her father for seven years when she refuses to marry a man she doesn't love. When she comes out of the tower she makes her way in poverty and distress to her beloved's country, where he is about to marry someone else.

Shannon Hale once reinvented another relatively unknown tale, "The Goose Girl" to great effect by inventing an entire world around it, filled with interesting peoples and countries. She is likewise successful with this book, inventing a Mongolian-like civilization and grounding her characters in fantastic sounding kingdoms like Titor's Garden, Thoughts of Under, and Song for Evela (all named for gods in a completely believable religion).

Hale made a conscious decision to tell the story through the eyes of Dashti, the princess' maid. It's a good choice. In the original fairy tale, we learn barely anything about the maid, why does she agree to stay with the poor princess, where does she disappear to halfway through the story? Hale also convincingly writes about the impossibility of the story (the food that is supposed to last Dashti and the princess for seven years is gone in less than four), and the toll it takes on both of them. Dashti is blessed with the healing power of singing, so she emerges from the tower with her sanity intact. The princess is not so fortunate. Throughout the novel we get glimpses of the princess' fear and slipping mind, and it makes Dashti's fortitude and strength that much more impressive.

I listened to this book as a full-cast audio production, and I must say it was wonderfully produced. The voices were spot on, and the musical elements definitely added to the experience. One sick day I listened to the bulk of the novel and absolutely fell in love with it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys smart and well-told fairy tale adaptations.
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