Review: The Stardust Thief (Sandsea #1) by Chelsea Abdullah

MY ⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5

Format: Kindle Whispersync


Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights, this book weaves together the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, 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 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.


Since reading Gunmetal Gods by Zamil Akhtar, I have had a really strong drive to read more stories that use inspiration from middle eastern parts of the world, and The Stardust Thief delivers just that. It was an incredible debut novel and Abdullah had me hook line and sinker from the very beginning! I had such a good time reading and listening to this one that I wasn’t ready for it to end, and sad once it did! I loved that stories like Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves were expertly woven to create a brand new story that could easily be added to the One Thousand and One Nights on its own merit.

The characters were so compelling, especially the three main characters, Loulie, Mazen and Aisha. Aisha may have been my favorite just because of her attitude, despite that, I still really enjoyed Loulie and Mazen almost as much. There were also a bunch of great side characters like Qadir who is Loulie’s bodyguard that really helped make some of the others shine even more. Abdullah also did a really good job of describing the characters in enough detail that you could really fill out who they were.

“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.”

The Arabian setting was just so captivating and exotic, honestly all I could think about was Aladdin while things were described. It really helped put you into the extraordinary story that is filled with twists and turns to keep you on your heels and an easy to understand magic system. The narration was also done by three narrators in Nikki Massoud, Sean Rohani and Rasha Zamamiri. I absolutely love when I get to hear more than one person do narration since it opens up the possibilities of the many voices that will never resemble each other! Sign me up for more of that!

This should be on everyone’s list if it isn’t already, because I am so excited to see what happens next after that incredible cliffhanger of an ending. I am going to have a lot of trouble doing my end of year lists, because this will be in a tight race with some very good books.


      1. That’s too bad. I don’t do cliffhangers anymore. I guess I’ll wait until the series is finished and see what you think of it as a whole then 🙂


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