I heard so much about this book and saw it all over my social media rhombus that when an opportunity came to read it, I couldn’t help giving it a go, even despite having quite a load of books on my hands already.
So thanks very much to the author, as well as Orbit for the review copy!
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.
This is the story of Loulie al-Nazari. In a land where the jinn are hated, and hunted for their magic, Loulie makes a living being the Midnight Merchant. With the help of her jinn bodyguard, she hunts down and then sells illegal magic and relics. On her journeys, she happens to save the life of one of the princes, and from there, the sultan blackmails her into finding a magical artifact that will sacrifice all of the jinn to heal the barren land. So she goes on an adventure with her bodyguard, one of the princes, and one of the prince’s jinn-hunting forty thieves, and many shenanigans are had.
I enjoyed my time with The Stardust Thief. It started out a little bit slowly for me, but it soon got its metaphorical feet under it and from there it became quite a page turner. I read it in three nights, and a couple of those were quite late nights, as it turns out.
I really liked the characters in this one, especially Qadir and Mazen. Qadir and his relationship with Loulie was an interesting one, a little more akin to a father-daughter relationship than that of a bodyguard and his charge. He’s very secretive though, as I always assume jinn to be. I thought Mazen really grew as a character throughout the novel, and I enjoyed seeing that character growth. Aisha, the jinn-hunter was also an interesting character that I came to like.
The Stardust Thief is inspired by 1001 Nights, and you can definitely see elements of that in the story. There’s storyteller whose nightly stories made the sultan fall in love with her, the jinn trapped in a lamp, the forty thieves… but so much more, and I loved the inclusion of all the stories told in this one. This book really embraces the tradition of storytelling as a theme.
All told, The Stardust Thief was beautifully written, so hard to put down, with characters I couldn’t help but latch right onto. I had a great time, and can’t wait for the next installment! 4.5/5 stars!~