“The stars, they burn the night
And guide the sheikh’s way…”
The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah
SERIES: The Sandsea Trilogy (Book #1)
LENGTH: 467 pages
GENRES: Fantasy, Fiction
PUBLISHER: Orbit Books
RELEASE DATE: 17 May 2022
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.
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.
“Go to her, go to her, they say,
The star of your eye.
Go to her, go to her,
The compass of your heart.”
Haha, so it’s been a few weeks since my last book review. Whoops. Honestly though, there was a ton of stuff going on last week and the week before, and I seriously had no time to read.
But I’m finally back with another! And what an absolutely stunning book to come back with!
Though it had a bit of a slow start, I ended up absolutely loving The Stardust Thief. The story and the characters were so compelling and interesting. By the halfway point of the book, it was difficult to tear my eyes away from the pages.
Anyway, let’s get into what I liked and didn’t like as much about the novel.
Stuff I Liked
Loulie had buried many things since her mother last told her that story.
Her name. Her past. Her parents.
But the story, she had never forgotten.
The characters were definitely my absolute favorite thing about the book. Loulie al-Nazari was a very interesting and compelling protagonist. I really liked her – she wasn’t like other MC girls that I’ve followed in the best way. She’s rough and jaded, with a tragic past (like several of my least favorite MC girls), but she’s also vulnerable and can’t do everything on her own. And this was a really big part of her character arc, which is something that I really enjoyed following.
Mazen bin Malik was a great deuteragonist, a great foil to Loulie, and had a fun personality. I really liked his character, and he was the first one that I connected with, even before Loulie. His insecurities and desire to break free from his isolation was very relatable to me.
Qadir was excellent, and I loved, loved, loved his and Loulie’s relationship. It was an entirely platonic, wonderfully written found family. I loved how he acted as another foil to Loulie – but in a different way that Mazen was. He was calmer and more contemplative than Loulie was, and it really balanced out their partnership, and helped them work seamlessly as a team.
He curled her fingers around the coin. “Not alone,” he said. “Not anymore.”
Aisha bint Louas was probably my least favorite of the protagonists, but I still really enjoyed her. Most of my character moment and character development tabs went to her, and for good reason. Out of all of the characters here, I feel that she had the most growth.
The thing I liked the most after the characters was definitely the short stories inserted throughout The Stardust Thief. They were told in a very engaging way, and were also expertly woven in to embellish on the actual plot.
The plot itself was also excellent. I loved all of the nods to A Thousand and One Nights, and Abdullah’s writing style. The whole thing was a super engaging adventure story.
Stuff I Didn’t Like
“We all start as cowards. We’re all afraid, Prince. The only difference between a hero and a coward is that one forgets their fear and fights, while the other succumbs to it and flees. Your fear of death does not make you weak. Only human.”
There were only a couple of things that I didn’t care for in the novel. First off – and this is more of an issue with a choice that the publisher made – the pages with the short stories were almost too dark to read the text off of. And as someone who already has some vision issues, it was extremely annoying. If these pages had just been a little bit lighter, it would’ve been fine.
The other thing I didn’t like was how whipped Loulie was about a particular character. Like, she was constantly simping over this man, particularly when they were in the room together. It was all just so awkward and annoying to me, mostly because I don’t feel like we saw enough of them together to justify all of the simping. But yeah, that was really the only other thing that I didn’t care for.
I did find some twists a little predictable (particularly those concerning Qadir), and I figured out most of them before they happened, but I didn’t mind that. It always feels good to get to these parts and find out that I was right. Also, I loved the twist on the title. I feel like you’re led to believe that Loulie is the eponymous Stardust Thief, but it ends up being someone else.
“The sun, it warms the sand
And set the sheikh’s heart aflame.
She waits in the shade, the sun says,
The beloved of your dreams.
She waits in the shade. The shade.”
So yeah, I really enjoyed The Stardust Thief and I absolutely recommend it to any and all fantasy fans. It’s so well written, with great characters and a great story. Just read it. Please.
As always, thank you so much for reading, and have an amazing day/night!
See ya ~Mar