Book name: Mirage
Author: Somaiya Daud
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Format: ebook, print, audiobook
Publication Date: 2020
Star Rating: 5/5
When I ran across Mirage by Somaiya Daud in our local discount bookstore, I was immediately drawn to the incredibly beautiful cover. It didn’t take long for me to become immersed in the mysterious story that lay beneath.
Mirage is Somaiya Daud’s debut novel. The sequel is Court of Lions, which was published in 2020.
Amani’s family are farmers on Cadiz, a moon orbiting Andala. They are inured to visits from Imperial droids and from the soldiers who enforce the empire’s bidding and control their lives.
Even so, a visit from the droids on the evening of Amani’s coming-of-age celebrations terrifies the family. Her brothers are beaten, and her best friend viciously attacked.
Amani’s face is scanned, along with those of other young women in her village. She is then taken by spaceship to Andala, where the ruling Vath family live in splendour inside the Ziyaana Palace.
Amani cannot comprehend why she has been chosen, until she meets the heir to the Vathek throne, Maram. Their resemblance is striking, which further surgery enhances until not even the king can tell them apart.
Maram tells Amani that she is going to be the princess’s body double. Amani is horrified at the risk to her life involved in going to all the public events deemed too dangerous for Maram.
However, Amani soon begins to use these opportunities to her advantage. The rebels are based on a neighbouring planet, which Amani visits as Maram when the princess wants to avoid seeing her grandmother.
Maram’s fiancé is also quick to guess that the kinder version of the princess is not the genuine article. It doesn’t take long for feelings to spark between Amani and Idris.
Maram was pretty horrible, but Mirage stayed empowering of women through Amani’s empathy for Maram’s position. Everyone hates her: either for being part Vathek/part Kushaila, or for being an oppressor. Amani tries, with limited success, to use her influence on Maram to help her develop as a person.
Mirage was many things, but it came comfortably within the fantasy genre. It was a straight-up sword and planet novel. It was fantasy romance. It presented a deftly developed immersive world based upon Medieval Muslim culture.
Mirage was told in the first person through Amani’s perspective. It was also comparatively short for a fantasy novel. There were times when I found the unrelenting focus on the palace, Amani, Idris and Maram a little restrictive. I longed to know more of the rebels directly rather than via the occasional reports that Amani receives through Maram.
I love fantasy romance, and Mirage was one of the best recent fantasy romance novels I have read. It reminded me a great deal of Melanie Rawn’s writing. It also felt similar to Tasha Suri, who uses Medieval India culture as the inspiration for her fantasy romance novels.
For quite a while as I read Mirage, I assumed that the story might be self-contained. This is somewhat more common in fantasy romance than in epic fantasy, where a story that isn’t part of a trilogy is a rare thing indeed.
In fact, towards the end it becomes clear that there would have to be a sequel. I am really looking forward to reading Court of Lions, as Mirage leaves Amani’s story on a gripping knife edge.
Mirage had quite a slow feel, and its story was quite simple. This was balanced by the complexity of the characters and the focus on an incredibly detailed fictional word. To achieve all that in so few pages is something that I greatly admired.
I hope you enjoyed my review of Mirage by Somaiya Daud.
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