ARC REVIEW: THE STARDUST THIEF BY CHELSEA ABDULLAH

  • STAR RATING: 4.5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 480 
  • WHAT SERIES? The Sandsea Trilogy
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Stardust Thief
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: Death, Violence, Murder, Blood, Injury/injury detail, Death of parent
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: The City of Dusk by Tara Sim

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Neither here nor there, but long ago…

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights, The Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp. 

This was an incredibly refreshing fantasy novel. Clearly inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights, The Stardust Thief is about a merchant, her bodyguard jinn, and the legendary relic they’ve been forced to pursue by the sultan.

Our main character is Loulie, the Midnight Merchant, who is known for selling magical relics in black markets. She is incredibly competent, no-nonsense, and seemingly quite independent. Her bodyguard, Qadir, has been with her since she was small, and does his best to keep her safe. Qadir is, without a doubt, my favorite character in this book. He’s quite serious, and mostly stoic. However, he loves Loulie with all his heart, and that comes across on page. He’s got a million and one secrets, and it was fascinating watching them all fall out as the story moves forward.

The other two main characters are Aisha, a dangerous thief, and Mazen, one of the princes. Mazen is an adorable cinnamon roll who needs to learn the ways of the world, but I still love him.

The writing in this book wove an absolutely beautiful tale set in an equally stunning setting. The landscape felt lush, and real. It is gorgeous. The Stardust Thief reads like someone is audibly telling you a story, and I loved it.

My one complaint is that the ‘romance’ between Loulie and the wali who’s name I literally cannot remember right now felt a little contrived. I wish we had seen more of them meeting or how they had fit together in the past, because as it is, it feels as if we were dropped into their relationship with absolutely zero context. I wasn’t a fan of this, and ultimately, I was rather happy when this plotline fizzled out. I figure there will be a romance eventually in this series, and hopefully that one will earned!

The Stardust Thief is an excellent start to a trilogy, and I hope that you’ll pick it up when it is released!

THE STARDUST THIEF COMES OUT MAY 17, 2022.

Preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE

9 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: THE STARDUST THIEF BY CHELSEA ABDULLAH”

  1. Great review! I’ve been seeing so many people receiving ARCs and reading this book and it has made me super curious. Sounds like a beautifully written tale 😍 It’s too bad the romance felt off but it seems like it wasn’t a big part of the story anyway since it fizzled off? I can’t wait to read this one even more now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is absolutely gorgeously written. I can’t compliment that part of it enough! And yeah, the romance wasn’t a huge part of it, which is why I think it felt so off? It kinda comes out of nowhere, bc the main character doesn’t really mention any ~feelings~ until pretty deep into the novel. Oh well! The rest of the book is worth it!

      Like

  2. I may not have finished this book yet but I agree with so much of what you’ve said! The romance arc could have been left out for me 🤷🏼‍♀️ It added very little to the plot over all & of also love Qadir. Brilliant review ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

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