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The Stardust Thief: The Sandsea Trilogy #1    by Chelsea Abdullah order for
Stardust Thief
by Chelsea Abdullah
Order:  USA  Can
Orbit, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's an Arabian fantasy adventure, one of whose plot strands is reminiscent of One Thousand and One Nights. The Stardust Thief is the first episode in Chelsea Abdullah's Sandsea trilogy, starring Midnight Merchant Loulie al-Nazari, Prince Mazen bin Malik, and Aisha (one of forty thieves).

Haunted by past tragedy (the massacre of her family of desert nomads when she was a child named Layla), twenty-year old Loulie finds and sells magic items, illegal in Madinne. She is aided by her beloved jinn bodyguard Qadir, who can appear as an umber-skinned man or settle on her shoulder as a small lizard.

Mazen sneaks out of the palace (against his father's orders) to listen to storytellers. Mazen's mother Shafia told One Thousand and One Nights tales to his father, the Sultan, before she died. When his older half-brother Omar, who hunts and kills jinns, catches him, he only holds his silence for a future favor. Then Mazen gets into trouble and Layla saves his life.

The Sultan is obsessed with finding an ancient lamp and forces the Midnight Merchant to undertake this perilous quest. He also assigns the task to Omar, who secretly pressures Mazen to go instead, magically disguised as his elder brother. Aisha, one of Omar's jinn hunters, joins them. They barely survive a series of dangerous, magical encounters.

Many secrets are revealed. Layla learns who killed her family, while Mazen finds out who killed his mother and develops his own storytelling skills. Aisha makes a life changing compromise to avoid death. This episode ends in the world of jinn, leaving readers anxious to find out what's next.

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