Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights, this book weaves together the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp.
Neither here nor there, but long ago . . .
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.
Abdullah's ambitious debut, the first in the Sandsea Trilogy, weaves an intricate tale that draws from the legends of One Thousand and One Nights to create something entirely new. In the sultanate ruled from the great city of Madinne, where magical jinn are persecuted on sight but still prized for their miraculous blood, Loulie al-Nazari, the mysterious Midnight Merchant, makes a living scouring the desert for jinn-enchanted relics to sell to the highest bidder. After inadvertently drawing the sultan's attention, Loulie is blackmailed by the crown to retrieve a priceless artifact from the legendary lost jinn city of Dhahab, deep within the deadly Sandsea. Accompanying her are her bodyguard Qadir, who's secretly a jinn himself; thief and jinn hunter Aisha bint Louas; and Prince Mazen bin Malik, who's been coerced into magically swapping forms with his ruthless older brother, Omar, as part of a political scheme. As their expedition grows ever more dangerous, with the group facing hazards both supernatural and mundane, their carefully guarded secrets are revealed, threatening to change the balance of power in the sultanate forever. Lush descriptions bring the setting to life, while the focus on myth and storytelling contrasted against the characters' harsh reality adds to the sense of mystery and enchantment. This powerful, intriguing adventure will leave readers eager for more. Agent: Jennifer Azantian, Azantian Literary.