I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Mirage by Somaiya Daud, a Moroccan inspired epic fantasy that perfectly marries political intrigue with forbidden romance and complicated betrayals in a dazzling new world. Set to be released on August 28, 2018, this genius debut will be flying off shelves.
(Side note—this cover is absolutely stunning and please excuse my poor photoshop skills as I only received an e-ARC)
In a world occupied by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani lives in constant fear. Despite her difficult life as a farmer’s daughter, she has a dreamer’s heart and a desire for something more in life. Adventure comes for Amani in all the wrong ways when she’s kidnapped by the regime and discovers that she’s nearly identical to the cruel, half-Vathek princess and heir to the empire, Maram.
With stirrings of rebellion and a conquered people that despise her, Maram needs a body double willing to die in her place. The princess’s upbringing surrounded by enemies and brutality hardened her, but as Amani gets to know Maram well enough to pretend to be her, she learns her people’s greatest hope may lie in a hidden compassion buried deep inside the princess—a hidden compassion at risk of being permanently stomped out.
At the center of a darkly political world, Amani learns her gilded cage is not without perks—mainly Maram’s fiance, Idris. Drawn to a man that could never be hers, she learns true sacrifice, and finds herself caught in a web of manipulation and lies. The rebellion may be closer than anyone expected, and Amani’s loyalties are about to be put to the ultimate test. Faced with impossible odds and everything to lose, how far is Amani willing to go for freedom, love, and her people?
The World of Mirage
The world Daud creates is immersive, enthralling, and absolutely addictive. In the beginning, it’s a bit difficult to keep track of all the foreign places and names (I actually started a log to sort them all). Usually, this is a huge no-no for me in a book, but I truly don’t think Mirage would have the same effect without the complicated cultural elements.
The worldbuilding is so thorough but it never comes across as an info dump. History, politics, language, religion, everything is covered in such an organic fashion. The culture is rich, consistent, and although I was completely unfamiliar with the Moroccan roots, I found myself perfectly at home in the world of Mirage.
The AMAZING Characters
Let’s start with Amani, our lovely leading lady. She is so relatable—brave but not invincible, strategic but not perfect, loyal but not completely selfless. It’s easy to root for her because we understand her.
Maram is a supposed villain, but secretly, I kind of love her. She’s vicious and goes on the defensive instinctively but as we learn more about the world she was raised in, it’s easy to excuse all that. Quite honestly I found myself as attached to her as I was to Amani, and I am so excited to read more about her in the next installment.
Idris seemed like an overly handsome bobble head at first, but a few chapters into his character development and I completely loved him. He has such a troubled past and doesn’t even truly understand it. AKA he’s the perfect sensitive, cinnamon roll book boyfriend and I can promise you’ll be begging for more page time with him.
The Bottom Line
This book is addictive—as in keep-you-up-until-three-in-the-morning-can’t-stop-reading-one-more-chapter addictive. The opening chapters kicked off an action packed plot and it never really slows down. The pacing is excellent and Daud makes masterful transitions between scenes and places. Everything in this book has hidden depths, and there are so many mysteries left to be revealed in the next book (which I am anxiously awaiting).
Fans of fantasy and science fiction will fall head over heels in love with Mirage. It has a similar feel to Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth and it certainly will experience as much success in the bookish community. I highly recommend that everyone pre-orders this book ASAP. You’ll want to have it on your shelf first thing when it’s released on August 28th!