“The Storyteller’s Daughter” by Cameron Dokey is hands-down my favorite book. I’m an avid reader and it’s tricky for me to point to my favorite but there are so many reasons why I love this book. I first read “The Storyteller’s Daughter” when I was in elementary school and have carried the same book around with me since then. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a light-hearted yet life-lesson-packed book.
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The plot of “The Storyteller’s Daughter” instantly caught my eye. You may know the story of Shahrazad, the woman who kept her husband the king spellbound for 1,001 Arabian nights by telling stories including Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor and other classics. Her husband had taken a vow to marry for a night and then kill his bride the following morning. What I like about this story is that it sheds some light on why the king made that proclamation in the first place. It’s a fictional account of what happened and how Shahrazad worked her magic of storytelling to save her life. It’s an fascinating read that I highly recommend you check out.
Whenever I thought about the story of Shahrazad, I took the fact that the king made that proclamation without second-guessing it. One aspect I love about “The Storyteller’s Daughter” is that it gets you to look at the other perspectives such as that of the king's, his dead wife’s brothers and the kingdom as it looks to and fears its king. “For surely a king is first a man. And so it must follow that a king does as all men do: the best he can.” That line really connects me to the king as I see the pain in his life and begin to understand why he made the proclamation. It opens the awareness in my life to consider other perspectives.
Woven throughout the story are short tales that make the book light-hearted. I love taking this book to the beach with me because it’s something that has an over-all positive vibe to it amidst the chaos of the story. Shahrazad is the daughter of Maju the Storyteller and the king’s vizier. Just like her mother, she’s an outcast most of her life because she’s seen as an outsider to the kingdom. Yet throughout her life and her actions, I am inspired with her bravery, courage and acceptance as she embraces her fate.
The best you can do in life is try. Or to say it more poetically: “‘I will not fail,’ the water bearer’s daughter vowed. ‘But worse than failing is not to try at all. For then there can be no hope of success.’” This short tale about the water bearer’s daughter can be found in “The Storyteller’s Daughter.” Just like the water bearer’s daughter, Shahrazad must try to set things right. If she fails, she will be killed, but she puts herself out there. This life lesson has been engraved deep into my mind. For other life lessons, you should read this book.
No matter how old you are, what century it is or where you are in life, this book is for you. It deals with the issues of finding yourself, trusting the unknown and understanding life as a story. We all feel threatened at times and start to build up our walls, but this story addresses the need to let people in so that you can heal from the pain. You may find yourself reading this book at various stages in your life. I know for me its meaning has changed as I’ve gotten older and matured. Though the story remains the same in each telling, it resonates differently every time you read it.
Cameron Dokey does a fabulous job writing this retelling of the “The Arabian Nights.” From the prologue, I was hooked. “A story is alive as you and I are. It is rounded by muscle and sinew. Rushed with blood. Layered with skin, both rough and smooth...A story beats with the heart of every person who has ever strained ears to listen.” Now that’s powerful! The story kicks off taking a life of its own. It also inspires the avid reader in me to recognize that any story comes to life when you read it because it becomes real to you. An author who can do that is definitely worth checking out.
I’ve read a lot of books in my life but this story has to be my favorite. You may be wondering why. The plot, characters, writing and structure captivates me from the start. But the spirit of Shahrazad comes to life when you read this story. When I was in middle school, my friend and I used to read books aloud on the bus together to pass the time. I can remember reading “The Storyteller’s Daughter” together and being able to discuss it at length. This is a story I think everyone should read if they haven’t already.
“The Storyteller’s Daughter” is a great book that I highly recommend. My copy is worn-thin from one-too-many reads but it’s close to my heart. What was your favorite part of the book? Which story stood out to you?
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