Week 14, Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Hale, S. (2007). Book of a thousand days. New York, NY: Holtzbrinck Publishers.
The King of Titor’s Garden, which is one of the Eight Realms in this fantastical world, locks up Saren, his 16-year-old daughter with her lady’s maid, Dashti, into a watchtower. He provides these two woman seven years worth of food all because Saren has refused to marry the man he had chosen. In order to keep her thoughts positive and clear, Dashti keeps an ongoing journal which becomes the book. While they are locked up, Dashti attempts to keep Saren happy but she eventually succumbs to a state of paranoid fear and depression. One day, Tegus Kahn appears and is able to speak and hear a voice through a small opening in the tower. This young man is one that Lady Saren likes but she insists that Dashti pretend to be her. Eventually, another visitor, Lord Khasar, appears and brings violence to the scene. This pair of girls eventually escape but must survive the struggle of the journey ahead as they fear the terrible Lord Khasar.
Keywords: fairy tale; kings and lords; locked up; romance; escape
What I Think:
Although a great piece of literature, this was definitely one of my least favorite books so far. While I usually like retold fairy tales, this was one that I was not familiar with to begin with. This may be a reason that I had such a tough time following along with this twisted version. For example, I had a tough time keeping up with the setting and the characters as the names were so bizarre. Even though I consider myself to be a decent reader, I found myself getting stuck on decoding these tough names and struggle to get past this.
On the other hand, I did like the format of this book. The book was written by the character, Dashti, as a journal and escape from her current imprisoned situation. “Day 88. I’m hiding in the cheese closet and hating the close walls and dim light, and if Cook finds me I’ll be out on my hide, but I must write this” (Hale, 2007, p. 158). This quote demonstrates the need to be writing the journal as well as the current dire situation of the characters. This is format and structure is one positive aspect of the book.
What the Experts Think:
Princess Saren is in love with Khan Tegus but betrothed to the dark Lord Khasar. Saren fears him, for good reason, and rejects the match. As punishment for her rebelliousness, her father locks her in a windowless tower for seven years. As the novel opens, Princess Saren is alone, except for the companionship of her mucker maid, Dashti.
In this recasting of Grimm’s classic fairy tale, Newberry Award winning author Shannon Hale once again delights modern audiences with a feisty, female protagonist, who not only must come into her own but also protect the fearful, insecure Princess from herself as well as from others who would do her harm.
Young adult girls, who are also on their own journeys of self-discovery, will be enchanted by this tale about female friendships, healing, and coming of age amidst the real-world tensions of betrayal, abandonment, deception, and loss. Discussion of literary elements, such as the narrative structure of fairy tales or the traditional use of character types, will make this book a productive companion to a study of classic tales in the ELA classroom.
Thompson, Phyllis. 2008. Book of a thousand days. ALAN Review 35, (3).