Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.
Jinn and their magic may be outlawed in Madinne but that doesn’t stop Loulie al-Nazari from trading their relics with her very own jinn bodyguard at her side. As the Midnight Merchant she lives under the radar until words of her talents reach the sultan. He has been seeking a powerful relic, a lamp that would give him the ability to rid his lands of jinn once and for all.
Prince Mazen just wants to be let out of the palace without and escort. When he sneaks out one night seeking tales from a renowned storyteller, he stumbles into danger, only to be saved by the Midnight Merchant herself. Little do they know, their lives about to change forever.
Loulie resisted the urge to roll her eyes. She knew it was not just a matter of youth. Men were praised for being successful at a young age, but a successful woman was a perplexing puzzle. Most men did not know how to respond to her confidence.
The Stardust Thief is inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, with Mazen’s love of stories allowing some of them to be told as they exist in his world. His mother’s past echoes the frame story of Scheherazade, bride of a king who kills successive wives, she staves off her fate with stories. She is dead now, and the sultan’s wrath has turned to jinn.
Of course there is also the famed story of the genie in the lamp. I loved the worldbuilding around the existence of jinn and their relics. The relics left behind by the jinn are more than just magical objects, and as you read, what the sultan and Omar are doing becomes clear.
I have aged more in the nine years I have known you than in the hundreds I lived before our meeting.
I loved Qadir. He’s Loulie’s jinn companion who often disguises himself as a lizard, hiding in her shawls. He might have secrets he is withholding but he is a good friend to her. The story is focused on found family rather than romance. There is a hint of it between Loulie and a more minor character, where she wars between her feelings and her morals.
Aisha is a complicated, morally grey character. She works for the enemy, is loyal to him and hates jinn with a fiery passion. Yet as events unfold she must come to terms with what she believes in and make some choices of her own.
Aisha did not mourn the past, and she did not overthink the future. But the present – that was something she could shape for the better with her blade.
Arabic influenced fantasy is my new favourite thing right now. I hope this trend is here to stay. If there’s a Daevabad shaped hole in your reading, The Stardust Thief is here to fill it.
The Stardust Thief is published by Orbit and will be available in hardback, ebook and audiobook editions from 19th May 2022. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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