The Stardust Thief

Orbit. (Sandsea Trilogy, Bk. 1). May 2022. 480p. ISBN 9780316368766. $28. FANTASY
DEBUT American Kuwaiti Abdullah unfolds a tale built from the threads of One Thousand and One Nights, an adventure quest, focused on four travelers. The Midnight Merchant, with the aid of her jinn bodyguard, sells relics filled with magic. Prince Mazen bin Malik is trapped in a life he does not want. Aisha bint Louas is one of the fabled Forty Thieves. They seek the jinn in the lamp. To find them, they must step into the endless, ever-shifting sands of the desert, a shimming substance that hides wonder and terror—ghouls and bandits, gardens born of silver blood, and deadly traps made by man and jinn alike. Abdullah transports readers into this rich world and literary heritage by crafting characters with deep backstories; maintaining an engrossing pace; and, most impressively, layering details into the story so deftly that the veil between magic and reality slips and bends delightfully.
VERDICT An impressive first in an expected trilogy, one that hits high notes of several popular themes and trends (found families, classics retold), but offers fresh perspectives as well. It will delight readers who appreciate highly atmospheric books. Share widely, not just with fantasy readers.
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