I am of two minds when it comes to Young Adult as a genre. I either fall desperately in love, or I loathe them. I enter every Young Adult novel with a healthy measure of skepticism. Particularly when it comes to Fantasy.
I found The Stardust Thief, the first installment of The Sandsea Trilogy by Chelsea Abdullah, on Book of the Month, and was immediately drawn in by the blurb. I was promised an epic fantasy—of jinn, magic, shady dealings, and recovered pasts. How could I not whip out my wallet with enough speed to break the sound barrier? I worried that my healthy measure of skepticism was compromised. In fact, I had to talk myself down as I cracked open the pages for the first time.
I was immediately drawn in by the first line and simply couldn’t put the book down. I lived, breathed, ate, and slept this book. All 468 pages of it!
Abdullah weaves an elaborate tale about a woman named Loulie al-Nazari—the midnight merchant. She deals in illegal magical artifacts, aided by her jinn bodyguard. In a world where jinn are hunted and their magic is sold off to the highest bidder, she has created a name for herself. A name that comes to carry more weight when she saves the Sultan’s cowardly son. The Sultan blackmails Loulie al-Nazari to trek across the desert in pursuit of a very important magical artifact: a lamp. It holds the power to revive dying lands but must sacrifice all jinn to do so.
It isn’t too often I find fantasy books with worlds so expansive I feel as if I can disappear in them. From cover to cover, I felt like I had been transported by Abdullah’s words. I felt every pain, every doubt, and every anxiety as if it were mine. The writing was seamless. And the characters, while not always likable, were easy to root for. I was delighted to see that this was the first installment of a trilogy, and I cannot wait to read what comes next!
If you’re looking for a new young adult fantasy to transport you to a new world, this definitely belongs on your TBR!
Have you read The Stardust Thief? If you have, I’d love to know what you think! Let me know in the comment section below!
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