Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One Thousand and One Nights Retelling

Once upon a time is timeless

In a faraway kingdom, a king has been betrayed. Deeply hurt and bitterly angry, he vows never to be deceived again. Unfortunately, the king’s plan to protect himself will endanger all of the realm’s young women, unless one of them will volunteer to marry the king-- and surrender her life.

To everyone’s relief and horror, one young woman steps forward. The daughter of a legendary storyteller, Shahrazad believes it is her destiny to accept this risk and sacrifice herself.

On the night of her wedding to the king, Shahrazad begins to weave a tale. 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 an unexpected love-- a treacherous plot will desrupt her plan. Now she can only hope that love is strong enough to save her

Title: The Storyteller’s Daughter: A Retelling of “The Arabian Nights”
Author: Cameron Dokey
Series: Once Upon a Time, Book 1
Start & Finished: 4/21/09-4/22/09
Published: 2002
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 218 (paperback)
Genre: YA- Fantasy/ Fairy Tale

"The original collection has no one author and no one source. The stories are Indian, Persian, and Arabi, and are told in many forms many centuries before they were written down” but One Thousand and One Nights (otherwise known as The Arabian Nights) is still one of the best known collections of stories and folk tales in the world. From this collection came Aladdin, Ali Baba, and of course Scheherazade the teller of these tales. Author Cameron Dokey has adapted this old classic for The Storyteller’s Daughter that is the first in Simon Pulse’s Once Upon a Time series of which Ms. Dokey is the most frequent contributor.

As the tales told by Scheherazade are essentially a series of stories within stories, this author selected only two stories to be told in The Storyteller’s Daughter completely (and one that supposed to represent the one from the actual One Thousand and One Nights that never ends told to Shahriyar): one to Shahrazad as a child by her mother and one that she tells her husband away from the palace. Like a true fairy tale though, these stories do have bearing in the actual tale later on.

“This tale, which you thought so long asleep as to be incapable of offering anything new, has given an unexpected stretch, reached out and caught you in its arms. Even as your mind thought to refuse, your heart reached back, already surrendering to the story’s ancient spell.” Having never actually read One Thousand and One Nights myself I couldn’t say how close of an adaptation that this story was but it did make me want to try to find a good translated copy of the original stories. I am curious if the whole “deciphering of the tale woven into the cloth” thing was something the author created or if it was a part of the actual story though.

“A story is alive, as you or I are.” It “changes with every telling, yet always remain the same. I am a storyteller, like my mother before me and hers before her. These things I know.”

Once Upon a Time Series
1. The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey (2002)
2. Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey (2002)
3. Snow by Tracy Lynn (2003)
4. Midnight Pearls by Debbie Viguie (2003)
5. Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie (2004)
6. Sunlight and Shadow by Cameron Dokey (2004)
7. Spirited by Nancy Holder (2004)
8. The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn (2005)
9. Golden by Cameron Dokey (2006)
10. Water Song by Suzanne Weyn (2006)
11. Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey (2007)
12. The Rose Bride Nancy Holder (2007)
13. The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn (2008)
14. Belle by Cameron Dokey (2008)
15. The Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey (2009)
16. The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Weyn (2009)
17. Winter's Child by Cameron Dokey (2009)
18. Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguie (2010)
19. The World Above by Cameron Dokey (2010)

First Paragraph: Once, in days so long past even the graybeards among you remember them only in stories, there lived a king who had two sons. Their names were Shahrayar and Shazaman.

  • Cameron Dokey doesn't have her own web page but Fantastic Fiction has a list of her complete bibliography.
  • The Once Upon a Time series has its own Wikipedia page with links to pages about the stories that they are retelling.
  • Just about everything you could ever want to know about the original story One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights).

Picture Explanations
Illustration by Walter Paget
Ebony Wood Chest: Maju’s storyteller chest
Golden Fish: A princess wishes to be a fish in one of the stories
Illustration Unknown


  1. This sounds so good! I might look for a good translation for my sister for Christmas - I think she'd love it.

  2. Hi :)
    Thank you for the great review. I enjoyed how you included a snippet of the book and the list of the books in the series and the pictures you included in your post. The series sounds really good. Thank you for sharing.
    All the best,

  3. I really need to get to her books one day. Great review!
    Thanks for coming by my blog earlier!

  4. Hmmm, this looks interesting. I have a copy of a bunch of the most famous Arabian Nights stories in a collection translated by Richard Burton but I have yet to read them. This sounds like an interesting series, I may check it out.

    But I really need to get on with reading the actual book. ;-p

  5. Very interesting........ great review.

  6. The whole series sounds like it would be enjoyable.

  7. Bermudaonion: This was one of the best retellings I've read of this particular tale.

    Nymeth: Isn't that great?! There are several quotes I loved throughout the whole book and had to write down.

    RKCharron: I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    Andrea: I really need to pick up more in this series too.

    Paxton: I'm heard of the Burton translation but I was thinking of trying to pick up the Lang one. I thought about trying to make it a long term read but I still haven't decided since I know it will take up a lot of time.

    Clement of the Glen: Thanks!

    CarolsNotebook: This one certainly is and I think tweens would enjoy it just as much as adults.

  8. I loved this book when I read it last year, it's just such a nice twist on the old story.

    Great Review

  9. I recently read The Arabian Nights in Husain Haddawy's translation and this sounds like a fun retelling to pick up next! Thanks so much for the review.

  10. Naida: Can you believe they recently changed the covers?! They're no where near as pretty.

    Sheila (Bookjourney): It was! I've been meaning to pick up the others in this series ever since.

    AnimeGirl: I agree. I really do need to read that old story though.

    Rebecca Reid: I haven't heard about his translation of the stories! I'll have to see about putting that on my Amazon birthday/ Christmas wishlist.



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