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The Stardust Thief - Review

I received the physical, E-Arc, and audio copy from Orbit Books. All reviews are my own.

It has practically been a year since I finished The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah, and I have been dreading writing the review for it because it was just so ugh. But a recent Instagram post from the Good Reads's review account inspired me to burst through the wall like the Kool-Aid man and finish my review. Plus, I've been holding a bunch of reviews hostage, and I owe these publishers something, so here we go!

"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 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."


I chose to go the audio route with this one, and the narrators, Nikki Massoud, Sean Rohani, and Rasha Zamamiri, couldn't sell the story to me. But it didn't have much to do with their performance. I believe the writing was at fault. I felt like Kombucha Girl – one moment, I was in awe with the book, and the next minute, I wondered why it had 70 chapters. The story was soooo slow! As the GoodReads review mentioned, "How does a book with so much action move so slowly?"?. 


The Stardust Thief had all the makings for it to be in the categories with AladdinSinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, and, of course, Arabian Nights, where the book was originally inspired. There were bodyguard Jins (genies), secret night marketers with tantalizing magical wares, reimagined stories that could sway Scheherazade herself, Adventure, Action, Murder, THE FORTY FREAKING THIEVES! But the story as a whole fell so flat. It took me two tries to get into it, and my fingertips lightly danced on that DNF button. But to be truthful, I also didn't want to put the book down.


See, the thing is, the story was mediocre at best. This book's highlight was the spun tales and the action sequence if you got that far. The world-building was written as if an immigrant stepped into a brand new country for the first time; everything shined. And even as you finish the book, it still stays with you. Again, it's taken me a year to write this, and though I don't remember much of what happened in the story, I still remember the awe I felt while reading it.


Overall, I rated this book 2.5 stars. That was hard for me to do because the book had soooooo much potential. It was one of my most 2022 anticipated reads that unfortunately fell flat. It could be better if it were classified as a young adult. Or was this a build-up for the sequel? (Might I add that this book was initially supposed to be a trilogy, but now I see it got downgraded? I don't know). The story wasn't bad, just a snail's pace, and if the second book ever gets announced, I won't lie; I may pick it up. I'm a glutton for punishment and would have to reread Book 1 for the third time, but I still believe that Abdullah can salvage the SandSea series. I hope.

The Stardust Thief is available now.

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