I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Fantasy Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 5 stars Series: yes - first book in trilogy
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.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
THE STARDUST THIEF is a wonderful debut, full of adventure, betrayal, magic, and storytelling. I love classic fantasy quests, and this definitely has that feel. A magic relic to find? Literally everything/one trying to kill them? (Oh my goodness, those ghouls are not things I’d like to stumble across ever!)
The magic is so cool, and the reveal about the nature of relics? I gasped because, wow does that turn the magic system on its head.
Naturally, Mazen was my favourite of the POVs (Loulie, Mazen, Aisha) because he’s a well-meaning, but ultimately a little hopeless, prince. Give me a good-hearted character who learns to face up to their fears any day of the week. Plus he likes stories, and as a book lover that’s always a winning characteristic!
There were so many points in the book that I could not work out how the book was going to go from that to something even bigger, in terms of action and stakes. And yet, every time, Chelsea Abdullah delivered more. There are lots of emotional highs and lows, a rollercoaster of elation as goals are achieved and despair as characters pay the price of others’ greed (etc.)
(I am going to try and phrase this carefully to avoid spoilers!) There was even a point where something happened that I would not usually believe had actually happened. I am a very sceptical reader when it comes to certain things, particularly early on in series. However, the way the emotions were written, the way costs had been detailed before, meant that I absolutely believed it had happened – and that is quite the feat for a reader like me.
That ending!? I would very much like the next book now please.