Eighteen-year-old aspiring poet Amani isn’t your typical fantasy heroine. And Somaiya Daud’s new sci-fi/fantasy novel, Mirage, doesn’t conform to formula either. Set in the Andala Star System, Amani’s family is from Cadiz—a moon of Andala. She’s grown up in a place occupied by the cruel Vathek, and wants nothing more than to travel beyond her home.
During Amani’s majority night—when girls are presented and come of age—tragedy strikes. Vathek men intrude upon the festivities, kidnapping Amani in the process. The young girl is taken to the royal palace, The Ziyaana, on Andala. There, she meets the half-Vathek Princess Maram…and realizes she’s nearly identical to the much-hated ruler. This hate is why Amani has been taken: Princess Maram needs a body double—someone to appear in public in the leader’s place, should her enemies take action.
Amani has always wanted to travel outside of her isolated planet’s bounds. But this isn’t exactly the adventure she was hoping for. Without choice, Amani is forced into her new role as the princess’ double. And as she gets used to her new setting living in a palace, she also gets to know Princess Maram’s attractive fiancé, Idris. But a rebellion against the Vathek is rising. Amani must decide whether to conform to her new role or use her position of power for good—and risk her own life in the process.
Daud’s world building is stunning, and the novel examines the themes of colonialism, race, prejudice, friendship, and love. Set on a Moroccan-inspired planet, Daud creates a lush, desert setting—combining historic cultural elements with futuristic technology. An unexpected friendship between Maram and Amani, the remembrance of one’s culture and faith, and a fight to keep that culture preserved come together to make this a powerful fantasy debut. Even better, it's only the first title in an epic series.
Click here to read an excerpt from Mirage, and then download the book.
Watch an interview with author Somaiya Daud on the influence of heritage in her writing.
This post is sponsored by Flatiron Books. Thank you for supporting our partners, who make it possible for The Portalist to continue publishing the stellar stories you love.
Featured photo: Federico Gutierrez / Unsplash