The Stardust Thief

Hachette Audio. (The Sandsea Triology, Bk. 1). May 2022. 15:38 hrs. ISBN 9781668606513. $26.98. FANTASY
In her LJ star–earning debut, Abdullah weaves story threads from One Thousand and One Nights into a lush, vivid fantasy that puts a company of strangers on the road to find the all-powerful jinn in the lamp. Leading the quest is Loulie al-Nazari, the Midnight Merchant, purveyor of stolen jinn magic. She is accompanied by Prince Mazen bin Malik and Aisha bint Louas, one of the 40 Thieves. Narrators Nikki Massoud, Sean Rohani, and Rasha Zamamiri read the story as the point of view shifts across chapters. The Loulie and Aisha chapters are strong, with deft voicing and performance. It is in these chapters that Abdullah’s evocative tone and setting shines most fully. The Mazen chapters feel rote and rushed by comparison. In addition to the inconsistent performance across the novel, the voices of Loulie, Mazen, and Aisha are also various, since each narrator voices them differently within their chapters, creating a feeling of serial narration rather than a unified performance.
VERDICT Abdullah has written a deeply appealing novel infused with enchantment. The audio edition does not uniformly match her achievement, but for readers who prefer to listen to stories, this is one not to miss.
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