ARC Review: Mirage – Somaiya Daud


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.

I received a copy of Mirage from Netgalley. I had heard a lot about this being a Morrocan-inspired fantasy, and the beautiful cover just blew me over. I had to read it.

It’s #ownvoices for POC rep.

I was very excited about reading this, however right from the start it was just not enough for me. I felt like I was just being carried through the story by the plot. The characters were not well-developed and did not seem to have any motives or goals except for those directly affecting the plot. As well as being plot-driven, the only character the book focusses on is Amani and this focus is very superficial.

I also felt like this book was building up to an introduction of a longer book. It just doesn’t seem to work as a book on its own, by the time I got to the end, I felt like I had finally settled into the world and understood the going-ons.

What was enjoyable was the poetry that kept being referenced in this book, and how the author wrote about poetry. This touched my soul.

Another fun aspect was the setting in space. It’s not often that I read sci-fi, and I usually avoid books set on a different planet, but I enjoyed this a lot. It was fascinating to read about the differences of the people living in space – yet again, I would have enjoyed a bit more depth in this aspect too. It was too superficial.

Unfortunately, I finished this book feeling more disappointed than entertained. I needed more character development. If you enjoy plot-driven sci-fi, you may enjoy this book.

Trigger warnings: violence, racism, attempted assassination, killing.

2 stars

Have you read Mirage? What did you think of it?


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