REVIEW: The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

Last Updated on December 15, 2022

Chelsea Abdullah’s debut, The Stardust Thief is a rich, epic fantasy set in an Arab-inspired world. Loulie al-Nazari is known as the Midnight Merchant – she hunts and sells magical artifacts. In that, this is a classic quest-oriented fantasy, though one in a more unusual setting. The story was delightful and dark, gritty and compelling, and all-around wonderful. I fell for The Stardust Thief  within just a few chapters, and its many twists and turns kept me engrossed until the very last page. The world-building in The Stardust Thief is lush and plastic, which just adds to the book as a whole transporting you into its realm. The jinn, the magic, every aspect of the lore fits together seamlessly to create a world of stories perfect for a literary escape.

Cover of The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

This is the sort of fantasy that takes its cues from mythology and stories, but turns them into something wholly its own. The focus is laid on character development and platonic relationships, with romance being very much on the backburner (which I really appreciated, especially as the most obvious comp to this is S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad series, which is wonderful, but also very focused on its romance). The main story is interwoven with in-universe tales, which I loved too, as it added another dimension to the linear storytelling which you don’t see too often. The characters are varied and amazingly well-developed, from Loulie, a merchant of stolen magical artefacts, to Qadir, her bodyguard or Aisha, the resident thief. Each of them brings something unique to the table as they are somewhat unwillingly thrown together on the book’s central quest – and I’m excited to read more when books two and three come out, as The Stardust Thief is announced as a trilogy.

One of the elements I loved most as a reformed historian was the inclusion of magical artefacts, old, valuable and highly sought after. I adore old things, and it’s catnip for me if they’re used as a plot device in books… Combined with the inserted stories and nods to A Thousand and One Nights, this was a book I was always going to love – and what is not to love in a thrilling story based on Arab mythology, with a fantastically diverse cast of characters and an epic quest? The Stardust Thief is a debut that introduces a strong new voice to the genre – I look forward to seeing what Chelsea Abdullah does in the future, and I believe that she has earned her place on shelves next to well-known names such as Tasha Suri or S.A. Chakraborty. One to watch!

Read The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

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Fabienne Schwizer

Fabienne Schwizer

Fabienne can usually be found with her nose in a book or two. Most of her life revolves around words, be that reading, writing, or editing. You can find more of her ramblings over on, where she also reviews YA books and more lighthearted Fantasy and Science Fiction, as @FLSchwizer on Twitter, and @libri_draconis on Instagram. If you're curious about what she is currently reading, check out