Tuesday, September 25, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Book of a Thousand Days -- Shannon Hale

"Book of a Thousand Days" ranks right up with "Briar Rose" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" as one of my all-time favorite books. I honestly can't say whether it's Dashti, the music of Hale's language, or the story itself that kept me reading til 3 AM and now sitting in front of the computer trying to compose a review that's even halfway fitting to the tale within.

When you are done with this book, you do want to tell people. In my case, I want to give this book to several lovely young women of my acquaintance to sit along with others that I hope they'll read and be inspired by. I know our local schools are always looking for donations, too.

The story is written as entries in Dashti's 'thought book.' It opens with Dashti recounting being sent to her new assignment as a lady's maid. Orphaned at 14, the child of the steppes had walked to the city and given her last horse as payment for a job. When The Mistress learned she could sing the healing songs, she trained her as a lady's maid and sent her to Lady Saren.

Before she knows the circumstances, Dashti pledges herself to the 16-year-old Saren. Then, she learns her oath will trap her in a tower with her charge for 7 years because Saren has refused to wed Lord Khasar, the man her father has chosen for her.

You'd think a tale of two women stuck in a tower for many days would be boring--it's not. The contrast between Dashti and Saren's reckoning of the situation is riveting. Saren weeps at her misfortune, but Dashti rejoices--she has a place to live and food for seven whole years!

And those contrasts are what keep you reading the book long past your bedtime into the night. Next, we see two suitors--one kind and one unthinkably cruel.

Dashti is what keeps you reading. Despite whatever misfortunes are dealt her, she works to keep her heart full of song and faith. She believes both in herself and others and that's a powerful message for people of all ages. "Book of a Thousand Days" is one of those stories that's good to find during your own hard times because Dashti's faith and message are inspiring to the reader as well.

I strongly recommend that you reserve about 4-5 hours to read this book and perhaps a bit more time just to look back on some of the lovelier passages. I hope if you love this book, you'll be passing it along to others as well. Dashti's is a worthwhile message to spread.

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, September 2012

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