I loved this middle eastern inspired fantasy with a plenty of intrigue, magic and lovely little stories scattered through the book- read my review of The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdulla
Source: NetGalley, Little Brown UK
Series: Book One of the Sandsea trilogy
Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.
With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.
I really enjoyed this middle-eastern, one thousand and one nights inspired fantasy with its beautiful world-building, conflicted characters, magical jinn’s and lovely, little stories scattered through the book.
The story is told from the points of view of Loulie, a merchant dealing with magical relics, Aisha, a battle-weary member of the King’s thieves, and Prince Mazlen, the naïve prince who loves stories. While they have to work together on a quest to find a magical lamp for the Sultan, their motives for undertaking the quest are contradictory (and selfish) which of course leads to lots of fun and peril.
The magical system while not unique is beautifully described for example a description of a tree bearing glass fruit that crunch in your mouth but dissolve into sweetness- something I would love to try. The world-building is fresh with the sinking sands of Sandsea being my favourite
Loulie, Matzen and Aisha are well-rounded and realistic characters and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them with every setback and peril they encountered. The relationship between Qadir and Louie was one of the highlights of the book- sweet and supportive.
I enjoyed the blurring between black and white- there is a lot of grey in this book. Are the Jinn truly evil or are Humans just as bad? Even the villains are sympathetically drawn ( but still evil!).
I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and discover more about the world of Sandsea.
Perfect for fans
Who enjoy fantasy set in a middle-eastern setting.