Published: August 28, 2018
Read as: US hardcover, owned
My rating: 4
In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.
But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.
As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death. (Goodreads)
“I could want until I was dead and nothing would come to pass. Wanting never solved anything.”
Sometimes I look around at my bookshelves and mentally berate myself about the number of titles I have nestled along them that I still have not read yet. Mirage was, until recently, one of those books. I had bought it on a whim when it was on a good sale, tucked it away on a shelf, and there it sat for a year. Then something nagged at me to pick it up, to give it a chance. Who am I to say no to the nagging voice in the back of my head?
That nagging voice did not steer me wrong as Mirage was exactly the book I needed.
This title comes in at 320 pages (US hardcover edition) which is relatively short for a fantasy novel in recent years. Each of those 320 pages packs a punch and I was not left feeling wanting for more detail or more insight. Everything you need to love and enjoy this book is within those pages. It makes every page, every sentence count.
The basis of this story revolves around an entire culture and people being swallowed up and destroyed by a foreign entity. In this case, that foreign entity happens to be a race of invaders from another planet however one can not help but to draw similarities between this occurrence and times it has happened on our very own planet. Except here in the real world cultures and peoples have been eaten up by invaders from other countries. Entire cultures, religions, and histories destroyed underfoot without hardly a thought by the conquerers. If this doesn’t make you angry, it should. I like the parallels Mirage pulled from instances of this happening in our world to use in Daud’s fictional world.
That being said we, of course, have our heroine who is torn from her family and left at the mercy of these cruel invaders for use to their own ends. Amani’s mental strengths and weaknesses during this ordeal have been labeled as unbelievable by some reviewers but I beg to differ. People don’t give enough credit to the capabilities of children and teenagers to adapt to different environments. I enjoyed Amani’s journey of pain and heartache that grows into strength and determination as she navigates her knew life.
Overall, this book is a quick read but it has many elements I enjoy. Dynamic character growth, sci-fi, gentle romance, family ties, and cultures and practices that differ from my own. I recommend this book if you are looking for a good SFF without all the extra fluff that can weigh a story down or make it drag on.