Title: Book of a Thousand Days
Author: Shannon Hale
Genre: YA fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook through Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program
Audiobook reader: Chelsea Mixon, plus full cast
Audiobook length: 7 hours and 26 minutes
First line: My lady and I are being shut up in a tower for seven years.
Goodreads blurb: When Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress, are shut in a tower for seven years for Saren’s refusal to marry a man she despises, the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment.
As food runs low and the days go from broiling hot to freezing cold, it is all Dashti can do to keep them fed and comfortable.
But the arrival outside the tower of Saren’s two suitors—one welcome, and the other decidedly less so—brings both hope and great danger, and Dashti must make the desperate choices of a girl whose life is worth more than she knows.
With Shannon Hale’s lyrical language, this forgotten but 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, drama and disguise.
Why did I wait so long to read this? I’ve had a print copy of Book of a Thousand Days sitting on my shelf forever, knowing that it was pretty much universally loved, and yet I kept passing it by. It took a review copy of the audio edition for me to finally get to it, and I honestly wish I had read it in print instead, because I wasn’t thrilled with the audio production. (I’ll get back to that later.)
My only other experience with Shannon Hale was Austenland, which was a lot of fun, but in no way shows what a beautiful, lyrical writer Ms. Hale is. Book of a Thousand Days is one of the most beautifully written works of YA fantasy I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot. She does not sacrifice the quality of her writing in order to move the plot along, and yet the plot does not suffer either. It is a testimony to the magic of this story that I wanted to listen all the time, even though the audio wasn’t that great.
This was my first experience with a full-cast audio, and I didn’t like it. Dashti’s story is told in first person, and so if they had left it simply read by the young woman who read the part of Dashti, it would have been terrific. But, instead, whenever Dashti writes in her journal about someone else speaking to her, another actor’s voice jumps in, and destroys the flow. It didn’t help that some of the other readers totally over-acted and pulled me out of the story even further. I feel bad saying this since I received this review download for free, but I would advise reading this one in print unless you can find a single-voiced audio edition.