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Arc Review: The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

Publication Date: May 17, 2022


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 NightsThe 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.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was a wild ride of stories and secrets, shocking reveals, betrayals, and allegiances that shift like the sand. And so, so much magic. I absolutely loved it.

The four characters on their quest (Louli, Mazen, Aisha, and Qadir) were all very different, and all hiding secrets, and it was so satisfying to watch them become closer and slowly reveal them. Some of them, anyway. They were all like onions, slowly peeling back the layers, offering up stories that were A truth but not always The truth. Piecing it all gradually together was very satisfying, like completing a challenging jigsaw puzzle.

I loved the djinn relics and how they tied everyone together in unexpected ways. I loved the secrets behind them, and the magic. I loved how they kept showing up where they weren’t expected and revealing new tidbits of information each time.

The story was so vast and grand and full of tales within tales and stories that aren’t only stories and truths that aren’t the whole truth that I still can’t quite wrap my head around it, and I know I will be rereading it before diving into the sequel when it comes out. And I absolutely will be reading it as soon as I can get my hands on it because that ending left me with so many questions and not nearly enough answers.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Orbit Books for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

To live is a matter of belief, Omar had once told her. The wicked live longer simply because they believe themselves to be invincible.

Because Omar is family, he thought. And with family, we always try to forget.

“Such pretty lies you spin.”

But Mazen did not think it was a lie at all. To him, stories were truths painted over in gold.

This is not a story, he told himself. This is reality, and I am living it right now.

The merchant turned away with a snort. “Your honesty is a foible, Prince.” She paused. “But also a treasure. Don’t underestimate your ability to influence others.”

“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.”

Violence does not suit him, she thought, but she shoved the thought away. It did not suit anyone.

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