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The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah Review

Title: The Stardust Thief

Author: Chelsea Abdullah

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Orbit

Pages: 480

Release Date: 19 May 2022

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Hello fellow book lovers, today I’m sharing my review for The Stardust Thief which is a beautifully written and transportive One Thousand and One Nights retelling by Chelsea Abdullah who—in breathing new life into the classic, epic quest/fantasy genre, with endearing characters and gorgeously detailed world building—has reignited my love of all things adventurously quest-like.


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 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.

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.


I loved just how easy it was to lose myself in this magical world, the depth and complexity of the characters was amazing and I loved just how intricately their lives become as the story (and the action) progresses— the execution itself was beautifully subtle but exquisite nonetheless!

The incorporation of folklore throughout was also really lovely, and though her name isn’t expressly mentioned, I loved how prominent Shahrazad’s story (the storyteller who’s clever stories save her life and win her the heart of a Sultan) was, with her son (and his passion for thre oral storytelling tradition) being one of the main focuses of the plot. The stories are so vividly detailed and truly capture that magical sense of wonder you feel when hearing a really great, immersive tale that you return to again and again.

The characters were all super compelling; I loved the Midnight merchant, Loulie she’s smart, witty and incredibly strong, even if she doesn’t see herself that way—she’s a survivor just Aisha and Mazen (to some extents) and I loved just how their shared childhood trauma ultimately bonds them all in a way—bringing them closer to each other.

Mazen’s emotionally conflicting arc was superb but it was the Jinn we encounter thst really stole the show for me— the complexities woven into their magic and history was fascinating and I honestly can’t wait to see where this goes in the rest of the series.

If you love a plot twist, then you’re gonna be pleased as there’s soo many plot twistingly good, jaw-drop worthy moments that kept me coming back for more. And, like the eponymous Sultan eager for Shahrazad’s tales , I was desperate to find out what would happened next— there were many sleepless nights spent devouring Chelsea Abdullah’s lush, magic infused prose (I honestly never wanted it to end.)

Overall, this enchanting epic fantasy is a book you definitely want to get your hands on ASAP, trust me fantasy lovers—you’re going to love it!

Also, thanks to Orbit and Netgalley for the e-arc

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫/5

About The Author

Photo Credit: Neesa Abdullah

Chelsea Abdullah is an American-Kuwaiti writer born and raised in Kuwait, where she grew up listening to stories about mysterious desert creatures and wily (only sometimes likable) heroes.

Consumed by wanderlust, she has put down roots in various states. After earning her MA in English at Duquesne University, she moved to New York, where she currently lives. When not immersed in her own fictional worlds, she spends her free time playing video games, doodling characters, and hoarding books she doesn’t have the shelf space for.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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