Mirage by Somaiya Daud — Review

32768520Summary:  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.

Review: 4 stars

I went into this book on reputation alone. I didn’t read the blurb. I heard that it was good and a fantasy. I had not read any reviews before reading. I tried to go into reading it with as little bias as possible. All I knew was that some bloggers and reviewers opinions who I trust enjoyed reading it. I am glad that I read Mirage because it was an epic fantasy that swept me off my feet.

The plot moved kind of slowly. But it didn’t bother me because the characters were incredible and kept my attention. Amani was a compassionate and brave character who amazed me throughout the story. I found myself loving her through the entire book. But my favorite character was actually Maram. I hated her so much in the beginning, but I feel like her character arc and the changes she went through were more important. I also love star-crossed lovers so the romance got me by the heartstrings.

Every relationship was built up slowly. Tiny intimate moments meant so much as the characters grow closer to one another. Intimate moments held the right amount of intensity with the writing as well. I felt emotionally attached to the characters. As a person who doesn’t like contemporary romance much, I loved this book, where a lot of the focus was on the romance. I can only attribute that to good writing and amazing character development.

I found myself so immersed in the culture of the world that Mirage was set in. The world building really made this one stand out. It felt like reading Aladdin, only set on a different planet. The culture was so important and was a big part in the story. I had a hard time pronouncing some of the things in my head, but since the information wasn’t dumped on you all at once, but rather given piece by piece it didn’t bother me that some things were hard to pronounce. It is clear that this is a story influenced by Arab culture, or Middle Eastern culture, which made this story so unique and so beautiful.

When I got to the end I was crushed that it was over. I wanted more. Luckily, this is a series. Trust me when I tell you that this is one release you don’t want to miss. The only book that I can compare it to is The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, if you like that book you will enjoy this one. I found it hard to believe that this was Somaiya Daud’s debut novel, but I will be following for the rest of the series and anything else she comes out with.

I received an advanced review copy from Netgalley and Flat iron books.

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