The Storyteller’s Daughter by Cameron Dokey

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RATING: 3/5

BLURB: “After a bitter betrayal, a King vows never to be deceived again. But the King’s plan to protect himself will endanger all of the realm’s young women, unless one of them volunteers to surrender her life to marry the King. To everyone’s relief and horror, Shahrazad, the daughter of a legendary storyteller, steps forward. On her wedding night, Shahrazad begins to weave a tale for the King. Fascinated, the King lets her live night after night. Just when Shahrazad dares to believe that she has found a way to keep her life – and has discovered an unexpected love – a treacherous plot disrupts her plan. Now Shahrazad must hope that love is strong enough to save her”

REVIEW: This book is one of many in the ‘Once Upon a Time’ collection, a project by a number of authors (including Dokey) designed to reimagine fairytales in a new and vibrant way, turning the women of these tales into true protagonists. This is the first novel of the project I have read, and I found it enjoyable. ‘The Storyteller’s Daughter’ is a retelling of the Arabian Nights tale, and Dokey introduces a strong and likeable main character with the blind but gifted Shahrazad, an outcast of society who remains the beloved apple of her father’s eye. The majority of the novel is a mixture of stories that Shahrazad reads from the scrolls left to her by her dead mother Maju, and the relationship that develops between Shahrazad and Shahrayar when she marries him in order to save other women from certain death. I enjoyed the tales told by Shahrazad, and the blossoming romance between herself and Shahrayar; I also enjoyed the coup that was staged against them both towards the end of the book. However, I did find that the writing sometimes seemed stilted, often simplistic and rushed, which made it a little dull at times. The relationship between Shahrazad and Shahrayar was also built up very mildly and never seemed to reach a point of culmination for the reader. This, and the simplistic writing style, could both be explained by the fact that these books are based on fairytales which, after all, are meant to teach and guide us rather than launch into vivid and length descriptions of each and every detail. I did, however, think that some elements of this book could have used more description and visualisation in order to give it more depth and prevent it from being just another traditional fairytale.

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