I am so lucky to have been chosen to be apart of the Mirage Tour! This is an amazing space fantasy about surviving and rebelling against colonizing oppressors. Ever wonder what Princess Leia would be like as an Anti-villain? Desire a dystopian world that isn’t white washed? Check out Mirage below with an excerpt, my review, and a giveaway!
I received this book for free from Fantastic Flying Book Club in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Title: Mirage
Author: Somaiya Daud
Series: Mirage #1
Pub. Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher Flatiron Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
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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.
Excerpt of Mirage:
He is the only one of his family without the daan. They say this makes him ideal; no traditional markings on his face to identify him should he die. No way to trace him back to his family. He is young, not yet fifteen, too young for the daan ceremony. This is what she says to him when she comes to choose him.
That he is young and that he is skilled and that he is steady. This, she says, is all that matters.
He does not feel young. He feels hungry, the sort of hungry that gnaws at him day and night, until it is so much his companion he does not know how to live without it. He feels hard, because he knows how to take a beating, how to fall just so when a guard hits him with a baton. He feels angry, so angry, the sort of anger that does not need fuel. He is invisible in a sea of invisible faces.
The crowd is silent, but then the crowds at these events are always silent. They are solemn. Too solemn. The nobles sit on velvet cushions behind gold rope, but those who stand, who look up at the podium waiting for her to appear, they are the poor. The hungry. The weak. They are here because they must be here.
The makhzen titter among themselves like jeweled birds, gowns glittering in the sunlight, scabbards flashing as men shift in the uncomfortable summer air. It is a wonder any of them are Andalaan; they all look Vathek now. They have accepted Vathek rule. They would not dress so, not if they truly were Andalaan in their hearts.
He thinks of his younger sister as he moves through the crowd. Dead for two summers now, her stomach bloated from hunger. His father, long gone, too weak to support them, to stay.
He has one sister left, and a brother besides, and his mother. All to be taken care of after this. She’d sworn. A husband for Dunya. A cottage away from the city for them all, with access to grain and a garden, and mayhap even livestock. Away from everything they know, but a chance for a new life.
His hands sweat. He has trained for this, he is ready, but he has never taken a life.
The blood never dies, he remembers. The blood never forgets.
This is for a higher purpose — one more important than his life, more important than any life. These things must be done, he thinks. In the name of Andala. In the name of freedom.
He marvels, as she climbs the steps to the dais, that one who looks so much like his kin is capable of causing such terror. He has heard the stories, knows that these things are often twisted through the telling. But his life, the lives of his siblings and neighbors, bear witness to some truth. The occupation is cruel. Its heirs crueler still.
The sun flashes against the silver metal of his blaster. He lifts it, aims, fires.
Cadiz,a moon of Andala
On a small moon orbiting a large planet, in a small farmhouse in a small village, there was a box, and in this box was a feather.
The box was old, its wood worn of any trace of design or paint. It smelled of saffron and cinnamon, sharp and sweet. Along with the feather there sat an old signet ring, a red bloom preserved in resin, and a strip of green velvet cloth, frayed around the edges.
I crept into my parents’ room often when I was small, always to peek into the box. And its mystique only increased in my eyes when my mother began to hide it from me. The feather fascinated me. A five-year-old had no use for a ring or a flower or
fabric. But the feather of a magical, extinct bird? Like all things from the old order, it called to me.
The feather was black, made up of a hundred dark, jewel shades. When I held it up to the light it rippled with blues and greens and reds, like magic reacting to some unseen hand, roiling to the surface. It had belonged to a tesleet bird, my mother said, birds once thought to be messengers of Dihya.
When Dihya wanted to give you a sign He slipped the feather into your hand. When He wanted to command you to a calling, to take action, He sent the bird itself. It was a holy and high calling, and not to be taken lightly. War, pilgrimage, the fate of nations: this was what the tesleet called a person for.
My grandfather had received a tesleet, though my mother never talked about why or even who he was.
“A foolhardy man who died grieving all he did not accomplish,”she’d said to me once.
I stared into the old box, my eyes unfocused, my gaze turned inward. The sun would set soon, and I didn’t have time to waste by staring at an old feather. But it called to me as it had when I was a little girl, and my thumb swept over its curve, back and forth, without thinking.
There were no tesleet left on Cadiz or our mother planet, Andala. Like many things from my mother’s childhood, they had left, or been spent, or were extinguished. All we had were relics, traces of what once was and would likely never be again.
I jumped when my mother cleared her throat in the doorway. “Amani,” was all she said, one eyebrow raised. It was too late to hide the box, and I could not keep down the surge of guilt for having snooped in my parents’ room just to bring it out again.
But my mother said nothing, only smiled and came forward, hand outstretched.
“Did . . . did your father give you the feather?” I asked at last, and handed the box over.
Her eyes widened a little. For a moment, I thought she wouldn’t answer.
“No,” she said softly, closing the box’s lid. “I found it a little while after the bird had gone. In a moment of weakness in some shrubbery.”
I rarely saw my mother look as she did now, soft and wistful, as if remembering a kinder time. She’d survived two wars: the civil war, and then the Vathek invasion and following occupation. She was hard, with a spine of steel, unbendable, unbindable, and unbreakable.
About Somaiya Daud
Content Warning: Torture, Physical Violence, Kidnapping, Racism, Colonization, Genocide, Cultural Cleansing, Biracial Hatred, Internalized Self-hatred,
Mirage is such an intense ride. Character driven loaded with character progression and twisting relationships. Day to day survival and self care teetering against the resistance and greater good. Even the down times have forbidden love and attraction.
It doesn’t sugar coat colonization so fellow white people, be prepared to take several seats. The council meeting was particularly chilling.
I love the world building, the descriptions, and the details. Everything just *popped* off the page and was so vivid.
I get the romance, but as a demi I need more time and involvement before I personally feel it. The prince is smart and cute and funny. He’s damaged so you just want to hug him and make him feel better. It doesn’t steal focus from the bigger picture of the occupation and rebellion. But it is still important. Loving each other against the rules, sharing their culture to keep it alive is an act of rebellion in itself.
There’s so much I didn’t see coming. The only thing I really called was the romance with the prince. Everything else was a surprise.
I’m convinced there’s more going with the Princess. I have a ~theory~ I hope is correct. Maram and Amani’s relationship is EVERYTHING. So unique and fascinating with so many different aspects and full of empathy. I normally don’t get anti villains but I think people are going to appreciate Maram like they do Killmonger.
Sidenote: The lack of any queerness is disappointing but that’s a general complaint of mine. This did not affect my rating at all.
I cannot wait for the next installment of the Mirage series!!
Some Favorite Quotes:
“Save your pity for the young and the dead, girl,” she said. “It won’t help me.”
“The ties they forges have broken and Fate has led our feet to freedom.”
“It was a cruel person that judged a child by their parent’s legacy.”
“You are not responsible for the cruelty of your masters.”
Prize: One finished copy of Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Starts: 8/22/18 Ends: 8/30/18
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour!