Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.
And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.
Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.
Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.
Heroines Who Rock: Nameless Queen from A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
Who She Is: She is the daughter of a desert trader, and the younger, less beautiful sister to his firstwife. She is her village’s sacrifice to the demon king Lo-Melkhiin. She is the latest in the hundreds of wives who slake his thirst. But she doesn’t quench, she doesn’t die, she triumphs.
Why She’s Awesome: In striving for equality there is a real danger of giving women men’s worst traits: anger, violence, impatience, and might, because they are often the traits of power as well. How does a heroine save the world without using force? But in this captivating, beautifully written story, the never named queen is given power through the more traditionally women centered traits and activities: spinning, embroidery, love, and sacrifice.
Who She Loves: Her sister. She sacrifices herself to save her sister. When she does so, her sister, through her own sacrifice, turns her into a living smallgod, giving her otherwise unknown power. Power to save all the people, the people of the caravans, the people of the city, the rich, the poor, those she loves and those she learns to.