Review: The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

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.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artefact. 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.

The Stardust Thief is in my favourite books of 2022. It is easily one of the best fantasies I have read in a long, long time, and a phenomenal first instalment of a series that has me immensely excited for what’s to come. The fact it is a debut? My mind is blown. The characters, writing style, world building and overall plot were perfect. This is one of those rare gems I wish I could rate more than 5 stars. It’s perfect for fans of the Daevabad trilogy and those who seek an enthralling reimagining of tales found in One Thousand And One Nights.

Chelsea Abdullah’s writing style was very engaging and welcomes readers to cosy up and enjoy an adventure of a lifetime. I could see everything illustrated by Abdullah; it unfolded vividly in my mind like a big screen movie. 

The magic system and world building were beyond enjoyable. With blades of fire, jewellery that allows shapeshifting and underwater breathing and so many more enchanted trinkets, I was truly in awe. I thoroughly enjoyed learning every facet of the setting; its backstory and present, and potential future. I fell more and more in love with the story with every sandstorm, myth and sword fight; I couldn’t put it down!

My “favourite” character kept changing throughout. The Stardust Thief is narrated by three characters; Loulie, Mazen and Aisha. Loulie is a merchant in magical relics alongside her very charming bodyguard/companion, Qadir. Mazen is a dreamer and the second born son of the Sultan, and Aisha is a renowned thief.

Each have a strong individual arc that is skilfully developed. They’re witty, resolute and a little misguided, but most of all, they’re incredibly endearing. All together? The potential is limitless. Their dialogue and dynamics were superbly established. I should mention for those who wish to know beforehand; there was little to no romance in this book. There’s chemistry between the characters, certainly, but no big romances (so far). Nevertheless, the relationships were great. I really loved Loulie and Qadir’s relationship.

It is a very rare feat for a series with multiple POVs to get me invested in every voice, but much to my surprise, I care very much about all three of our narrators. I wouldn’t object to the introduction of a certain jinn’s perspective, either. I am beyond excited to see where they go next (both individually and together). 

Quite frankly, I am obsessed. In my more dramatic moods, I need the sequel almost as much as I need air. The ending!? Promising an even grander adventure?! Genuinely, I know the closing lines by heart. 

Utterly captivating and rich, I feel like I’ve been up, down and around the world within these pages of complete adventure. The Stardust Thief is the kind of story that makes you look to the wider world and be full of wonder: it gives the gift of believing there is magic, full of shining possibility, just waiting to be discovered. Thank you Abdullah for writing this story; I would say The Stardust Thief is in my favourite reads ever, and I cannot wait for the sequel!

Buy It Now

Thank you kindly to Abdullah, Orbit UK and NetGalley for an eARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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