The Stardust Thief Readalong: Day 1!

Stunning photo by @betterwithabookinmyhand!

Hi Fairies!

Happy Tuesday and welcome to day 1 of our readalong of The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah. I’m so excited to be reading this one with you, I hope you all love it!

Before we start, how are you all doing? I hope you had a wonderful weekend and got some reading and relaxing done.

Since today is day 1, we’ll be reading from the beginning to the end of Chapter 12. Get comfy and let’s get started!

When you’ve finished today’s section, catch up with me in the comments down below so we can discuss the beginning of the book. Happy reading!


Please be warned, the following section will include spoilers for The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah from the beginning to Chapter 12. Please only read on if you have finished this section!

–!SPOILERS!-

We’re beginning with a story within a story, The Tale of the Jinn! A story of uncontrolled magic, lost jinn cities and faithful mortal servants.

We join Loulie as she waits to meet a mysterious One-Eyed Merchant. She’s the Midnight Merchant, a magic seller and she intends to sell magic to the One-Eyed Merchant. She’s accompanied by Qadir, a jinn who she calls her bodyguard. Rasul, the One-Eyed Merchant demands to see proof of the magic before handing over the other half of the money owed. Despite making a coin literally disappear (hello, magic!) and showing Rasul the vial of sparkling magic liquid, he’s still not buying it. Loulie assures him that if it’s only water, the guards surrounding the room can easily steal his gold back. Ooooh she’s feisty, I like it!

After payment, she hands him the vial and when taken, it gives him his eye back. Loulie jokes that he might need to change his name now.

Loulie has a flashback to meeting Qadir for the first time. She had just lost her parents and a jinn was dragging her through the desert. The jinn carried her when she would not walk, and showed her tricks to cheer her up. He told her the coin is magic, one side human and the other jinn. It’s a truthteller. He tells her to flip the coin and if it lands on the human the answer is false, if it lands on the jinn it’s a truth. She flips the coin and says her family is dead: truth. She flips the coin and says a jinn saved her life: truth. She flips the coin and says she’s alone, it rolls away and Qadir picks up the coin and placed it in her hand, jinn side up, and tells her she’s not alone anymore… 9 pages in and I’m weeping… this could be a record.

Back in the present, Loulie and Qadir overhear a meeting between Rasul and another about the sultan. The sultan thinks there’s something in Lady Shafia’s stories that could help them claim victory over the jinn. Suddenly the topic has switched and Rasul is talking about the illustrious Midnight Merchant. Not even realising how close she is, in her mundane disguise.

New chapter, new POV! Drop a 🙋 in the comments if you love multiple POV books!

Mazen is the sultan’s son, a prince. Could he know anything about this relic his father is hunting for? Mazen is looking for a storyteller, a specific one. Everything seems pretty relaxed until Mazen overhears an off-duty guard talking about his brother behind his back. If this guard recognises him, this could go very badly! Then Mazen chokes on his coffee and all hopes of not drawing attention to himself promptly disappear. This is my kind of awkward bad luck!

Thankfully, the guard doesn’t recognise him and goes back to discussing how many more jinn there are around lately. We find out a jinn killed his mother, this is why he’s so tightly bound to the palace. Then a woman appears before him and he’s completely… beguiled. Something’s not right and Mazen knows it. He has the urge to follow the woman and make her his own. Is she a jinn?

Back to Loulie, we learn that her birth name is Layla, but she uses that now as an alias for people she doesn’t entirely trust. Only those she trusts call her Loulie. As Loulie and Qadir enjoy the market, they spot the jinn that’s enchanted Mazen, and they follow her, using a compass that her father provided Loulie with back when she was just Layla, before she was the Midnight Merchant. The compass belonged to Qadir and he returned for it, which is when Qadir saved her life. He stayed because the compass told him he must, until it directs him elsewhere.

Back in the present, Loulie decides she’ll either talk to the jinn… or threaten her with a curved dagger. You go girl! She argues with the jinn until smoke begins to coalesce in the air around her, filling her lungs and giving her flashbacks to memories of losing her family. She returns to the moment and the jinn knows she lost someone to the “men in black”

Then out of nowhere sunlight bursts into the room and a man is standing in sunlight – is it Mazen? Loulie collapses.

Mazen exits his state of transfixiation, and Loulie’s there to greet him. Mazen thinks she distracted him enough to be able to fight his way out of the trance – that’s oddly romantic. We learned earlier that Loulie gives her birth name, Layla, to those she doesn’t trust, and she introduced herself to Mazen as Layla. Don’t feel bad though, he’s equally untrusting and he too gives Loulie a fake name, Yousef.

Mazen remembers he was supposed to be locating Old Rhuba for some story-time, and Loulie is happy to escort him there! Loulie lies and tells Mazen she’s a messenger and he lies and tells Loulie he’s a scribe. This lying pair are made for each other I swear!!!

They find Old Rhuba and he begins his story, a story about bone ghouls and their keeper the Queen of Dunes. By the time the story finishes, Mazen realises he has a curfew that’s fast approaching and speeds off, but not before asking if he’ll see Loulie tomorrow at the tavern where Old Rhuba will be telling more stories.

Loulie, in her distrust, follows Yousef, and bumps into his brother, the sultan’s eldest son, but she obviously doesn’t know Mazen and Omar are related. He assumes she’s a beggar – charming – and offers her coin. Take it and buy books Loulie, he doesn’t deserve it.

Loulie and Qadir return to their room at Dahlia’s Tavern, and they rest. 

Mazen returns to the palace, entering his Hakim’s room screaming of a jinn in the city… wasn’t he supposed to be keeping it quiet that he escaped the palace? Subtle Mazen.

Hakim doesn’t believe him, merely asking if he’s talking of one of his stories.

When he meets with his father, his father is not alone, accompanied by Rasul – the One Eyed Merchant, although he has two eyes now. Rasul tells the royals of the Midnight Merchant and they’re fascinated. Rightly so, our gal Loulie is pretty cool!

It sounds like the sultan intends to commission Loulie to find this mysterious relic but Mazen doesn’t have high hopes that the Midnight Merchant would return alive. 

Mazen goes to hunt down his other brother Omar and when he finds her, he’s joined by Aisha, one of his thieves. She’s not the most welcoming of people… but I like her!

Mazen is annoyed that Omar knew there was a jinn in the city and let him go out despite the danger it posed. Omar doesn’t seem too concerned, he’s more concerned about their father finding out Mazen was out in the city. He warns Mazen that if he finds out, he’ll do to him what he did to Hakim and make him a prisoner in the palace. It’s clear Omar has the upper hand, he knows Mazen was out, he could easily tell their father and then Mazen would be trapped. What a predicament.

Ooooh. Another POV! This time we’re stepping into the mind of Omar’s grumpy thief, Aisha. She’s delivering a message from Omar, apparently the qaid had some concerns and the king dismissed them so Omar is stepping in to send one of Aisha’s comrades to join the qaid’s security. This all seems sketchy?

Omar mysteriously appears alongside Aisha, is there a bit of romance between them? He seems a bit smitten, warning her about the jinn, apologising for his abrupt dismissal earlier and assuring her she won’t be sent to join the security, she’s too good for it.

Loulie sits with Dahlia, the tavernkeeper, who’s very interested to know more about Rasul but Loulie isn’t really interested in the conversation. She’s waiting for Qadir and he’s late. Dahlia thinks she should find a husband or a more timely bodyguard. Ohh maybe I was wrong about a sprinkle of romance blossoming between Loulie and Mazen, she has feelings for a man in Dhyme, Ahmed. Before Loulie can ponder too much, Qadir is back!

Dahlia tries to convince Loulie to stay for Old Rhuba’s stories but Loulie isn’t having it, instead assuring Dahlia there’ll be a man here who’ll appreciate Rhuba’s stories just as much as she.

Qadir and Loulie disappear into the Madinne’s underground tunnels and she asks Qadir for news from the souk. He says it’s largely elaborated stories about the jinn. She sets up her stall as the Midnight Merchant, selling magic and relics. 

It turns out, Mazen didn’t manage to escape the palace to go and see Old Rhuba at the tavern, but his brother Omar knows it was his intention. Omar says it’s a good thing he’s not there because their father has news of an underground tunnel at the tavern and intends to find the Midnight Merchant. Uh ohhhh.

I thought that was bad enough… but the jinn is inside Mazen and has been this entire time??? Talk about bad luck. He’s literally taken the deadly jinn home with him. It was hiding in his shadows but Omar somehow knew all along. I did not see that coming. 

At the market, things begin to go downhill when someone starts shouting “rat” and they discover the location of the market has been compromised. When the guards come and try to take down a woman all in blue, Loulie makes the connection that they’re likely here for her, they’re looking for the Midnight Merchant. 

When she returns to the tavern, the sultan’s guards await her and she very calmly follows them into the souk.

It seems her bag of relics, no matter how illegal, can save the sultan and his sons from the jinn at large. It really feels like no matter how notorious the Midnight Merchant is, they’ve still underestimated her. 

Inside the diwan, both Yousef and Layla are essentially uncovered. Loulie knows now that Yousef is in fact, Prince Mazen and at some point Mazen is bound to be introduced to his saviour and discover Layla is actually Loulie who is actually the Midnight Merchant. Confusinggggg. This is why you don’t lie!

I’m genuinely a little scared for Mazen at how flippant the jinn is, and how inconsequential she believes Mazen to be, the jinn controlling his shadow and turning it on himself. The pond of crimson around his fallen body can’t really be a good sign can it. Maybe Loulie won’t save him after all…

Qadir’s knife appears beside her, maybe a moment too late… but we’ll forgive him since it’s pretty much the only hope Loulie has. Suddenly Omar appears to steal the limelight and YES I’m bitter about it. Then somehow he makes the jinn, real? I mean obviously she was real but she was intangible and now she stands as a woman before them and I am equally as confused as Loulie. Once he’s defeated the jinn (show off) he also pulls the Elixir of Revival out and saves his brother. I really thought Loulie was gonna be the star of that show…

Mazen wakes and he has memories of Omar trying to kill him, obviously when the jinn was inhabiting his body, possessing him. But he’s alive and well! Well might be an exaggeration but he’s certainly doing better than he was the LAST time we saw him. Aaaaand now the penny drops. He knows, Layla and Loulie are one and the same. The notorious Midnight Merchant has saved him not once, but twice AND she knows he’s the prince. In his panicked-excited-bit-of-both-not-really-sure state of mind, he gets up out of bed after nearly DYING and demands he’s off to the diwan.

So the sultan tells Loulie of his plan for her, she will go and find this relic he searches for, a lamp which holds a jinn. It originally belonged to the very first sultan and – strap in, fairies – Mazen is about to tell us the story of how it came to be, and how it came to be lost.

I have to say, you’d think The Tale of Amir and the Lamp would be enough to put the sultan off trying to find it? The last thing on my mind after learning of that story is “wow, get me that lamp”, then again, we know the sultan can be a tad… bloodthirsty and apparently murdered his wives so perhaps he doesn’t hold the fears of a normal person?


Alas, fairies, we’ve reached the end of day one! That section was a lot to unpack and I am both nervous and excited to see where we’re going next!

Let me know your thoughts on this section in the comments and I’ll see you tomorrow for day 2!

Love,
Shannon

40 thoughts on “The Stardust Thief Readalong: Day 1!

  1. I loved the book so far. It was a lot, but worth it. I love Quadir. Loulie and Mazen make a fine lying pair:) Also I am curious how important Aisha is going to be since she had her own POV. Maybe she goes on the search for the lamp with them

    1. So happy you’re enjoying it! 🖤

  2. I absolutely loved the beginning and how well the bits of history are woven in with the two main POVs! I was immediately obsessed with both Loulie and Mazen (love ferocious girls and starry eyed boys, so immediately thumbs up from me!) and the world building is so exquisite!

    1. I’m so glad you’re loving it! 🖤

  3. I do love Multiple POV!
    🙂 ah I do love folklores

  4. This book is giving me Daevabad vibes and I’m LOVING it😍
    I don’t know what’s up with that brother of his, Omar, but me no likey!

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    1. Omar is very suspish. 👀

  5. 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️ I love multiple POVs! Also loving this book so far. Lots of cool action packed into the first 100 pages!

    Omar is def sus, but I kinda like how he acts around Aisha? Still determining if he’ll help or hurt Mazen in the future. Or Loulie for that matter.

    Speaking of, these flashbacks are super intriguing, as is her relationship with Qadir! I can’t wait to learn more about their backstories.

    1. So happy you’re enjoying it so far! 🖤

  6. Hi everyone!
    Wow, this was quite an opening! Somebody already died and got resurrected, I guess. This was fast! 😀
    I am all in for multiple POVs! 🙋🙋🙋 That is one of the reasons that I really like the ASOIAF books. I’m intrigued that we got even Aisha as a POV! I wonder if we’ll see more of Omar through her.
    I really like Loulie/Layla, Qadir and Mazen so far! I am a bit concerned that Qadir said that when the compass will show another direction, he’ll leave Layla. It was mentioned multiple times, that’s why I’m a bit afraid.
    I love the stories inside the stories, I am curious how much reality does this story with the lamp have and can Layla found it. Can’t wait to read more!

    1. Hi! So happy to hear you’re enjoying the book so far! 🖤

  7. I am so INTRIGUED by this whole thing so far! I love Qadir and Loulie is so fascinating and I adore her backstory. I love stabby, strong female mcs with tragic pasts. I like both Mazen and Aisha (so far)! Mazen is really sweet and seems smart and cool. However, while I like Omar, I don’t trust him and worry about him and what he’s about and up to….what his true motives are. I don’t know. Maybe he’s okay but he just seems selfish or up to something. Or maybe I just don’t trust easily. lol

    I am really fascinated by the world and these good and bad jinn! Can’t wait to see what happens next!

  8. I love multiple POVs and normally I like one POV better than the other but in this case I really liked all of them. Very interessting characters and I’m so excited to see where this story is going. I guess that Loulie, Mazen and Qadir are going on that trip together but I can’t really see why Mazen should accompany them…
    I’m also really curious on how the story of Qadir will evolve.
    Really like the story so far and looking forward to reading the next chapters.

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  9. Such a great start! I love the vibe, the story within story part and how the history and some of the background for the characters are so seamlessly woven into the story!

    I must say Mazen reminds me a bit of Lazlo from Strange the Dreamer? It’s so fun to read his POV, I love these dreamy guys haha! Looking forward to seeing more interactions between him and badass Loulie! I also love how Loulie is both feisty and humble, she knows she isn’t “a hero” and is simply trying to do her best in what she can! Her and Quadir’s relationship is so sweet however.

    Also wondering what is up with Omar… I imagine we’ll get to know more about him through Aisha’s POV? He definitely is in the deep morally grey area, so I wonder if he really could be a love interest or some kind of antagonist?

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  10. Oh I do love multiple POVs, especially when you know they’re going to wind up on a quest or adventure together! It’s so fun to see their attitudes and situations and how they end up getting thrust together. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the dynamics of this group will be.

    I thought this book was very immersive right from the get go. I love jinn stories and this one looks like its revving up to be amazing.

  11. Oh wow. I have to say that the First 30 Pages or so didnt quiet Catch me. 😅But Boy did i get sucked into the Story after that. The different povs are really Well written. They each have their own voice and i wasnt annoyed or in Need to hurry through a chapter to get to a different pov 😄 i cant wait to learn more about Qadir and why there are three persons on the endpaper and Not 5 🧐

  12. I really like this so far. I started reading early before i knew there was a community reading and got to chapter 16 but a migraine put me back on track with the group lol. Omar is suspicious for sure. I feel like hes got some ulterior nefarious motives.

  13. I’m liking the multiple POVs and our characters so far. I am feeling very Sus of Omar and Qadir though, not sure what their true motives are.

  14. I am very intrigued by this story so far! I am definitely getting the sense that story-telling plays a big role. I am unfamiliar with the story of 1,001 Arabian nights, so I may try to find a cliff notes of that before starting the next section!

    I appreciate that the author sprinkles the characters’ backstories in little bits and pieces instead of info-dumps. It really makes me want to know more about the history of the characters and the world. I am very interested to see what the true history (besides the legends) about why there is such strife between the jinn and humans. I am also interested to see how someone with a close relationship with a jinn and someone who kills jinn for a living are going to be able to interact.

  15. I love books with multiple POVs and I really like how the characters are already showing their individual personalities. I already feel bad for Mazen and the way his life is so constrained and I love Loulie and her friendship with Qadir – also the fact that he can become a lizard! I’m really looking forward to seeing where the story goes next 🙂

    1. So happy you’re enjoying it! 🖤

  16. I think the story is definitely interesting. The author does a good job with descriptions, making it pretty easy to fall into the world. I wish we had spent more time with Loulie before being introduced to other POV.

    1. Agreed, Chelsea Abdullah did an amazing job with the descriptions and world building! 🖤

  17. It was very hard to put the book down once if finished the first section. I am really enjoying the different point of views and how the characters are developing. I can’t wait to see how they all come together, especially when it comes to the search for the lamp! I am really excited to see where this adventure goes.

    1. So happy you’re enjoying it! 🖤

  18. I love multiple POVs, but I’m not quite hooked on the story yet. There’s a lot going on. I do want to see Loulie and Mazen’s relationship deepen

  19. It’s an interesting start to the novel so far, I am definitely intrigued to see how the story progresses. I’m not a huge fan of Omar so far, it’ll be interesting to see what role he plays further along. I am enjoying the different POV’s, especially finding out how uncomfortable and scared Mazen is of Omar, every different relationship I expected from brothers. Looking forward to the next section!

    1. Hope you love the next section just as much! 😍

  20. Thought this was a great start to the book! Interested to know how the story plays out, because the perspectives are from Loulie and Mazen, but the description of the book implies Loulie and Omar are going on a mission.

    Really enjoying so far!

    1. So happy you’re enjoying it! 🖤

  21. I love books with multiple points of view. I’m enjoying the relationship between Qadir and Loulie. He’s been her protector and father figure but they are also like brother and sister and have great banter and trust. I don’t trust Omar and because I don’t trust him I also don’t trust Aisha. I’d like to know more about the third brother.

    1. I don’t trust them either, very suspish! 🖤

  22. Wow this felt like a LOT to read in one day! I started before bed last night and had to finish up today haha. But the story and characters and world are very rich and drew me right in. I’m especially curious about Qadir’s motives for being with Loulie and what’s really going on with the jinn vs the hunters in general…as always with two sides that have been at war for a long time, they each see things as very black and white and I want to know what the truth is.

    1. The sections are quite big since it’s a chonky book, but please feel free to read at your own pace! 🖤

  23. I thought this was a wonderful start to the story! I love the cast of characters and that we get multiple POVs. The setting and premise and stories within stories are all really engaging. It will be really interesting to see what happens with the hunt for the lamp. Definitely doesn’t seem like a good idea to go looking for it!

  24. I love Mazen! And how sassy Qadir is 🙂

  25. I’m loving the Aladdin vibes (although Mazen would be the royal going out into the city in disguise while Loulie is the cunning yet softhearted thief of the streets). Omar gives me the creeps, & I’m concerned he recognized Qadir, a jinn, helping Loulie fight the shadow jinn… & what that could mean for her safety. I’m also wanting to find out more about the Men in Black because, supposedly, Qadir killed them (as Loulie witnessed), but could there be more still out there or something else all together happening?

    We’ve left off on the creation of the Jinn (Genie) of the Lamp, & I can already hear the not-so-subtle warning/reminder that some things are better left buried. His father already seems horrible (Omar, too) without this corrupting power at his fingertips. 😬

  26. Wowza! That was a lot of information and I was not sure that I was going to like it at first but I think that I am wrapped up in it now. I love the relationship between Loulie and Qadir. It makes me happy that they found each other. Now the relationship between Omar and Mazen? Terrible! How could he let that happen to his little brother? He knew that the jinn was hiding in his shadow and used him to lure her out. On top of that, he almost didn’t use her blood to heal him!

  27. I started the book with fear to be disappointed, but so far I loved it! I really like the characters and intrigued to see what will happening. I’m hating Omar a lot though.
    By the way, Hakim is so lovely 🖤

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