Rummanah Aasi

Description: 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:  On her majority night, a coming of age ceremony, Amani is forcibly taken by Imperial droids and carted off her moon to the mother planet Andala, home of Vathek royalty. Amani grew up in an impoverished village, Cadiz, under Vathek occupation and knows their cruelty. She is shocked to discover that she is a doppelganger to the ruthless and hated half-Vathek Princess Maram. In response to increased rebel attacks, Amani is groomed as a body double and must navigate the complexities of court, including the charms of Maram’s fiance, Idris.
  Mirage has a slow burning plot. I felt the first half of the book was slow going for me as we are introduced to the Vathek court and key players. I was, however, fascinated by the Moroccan influence that has shaped Daud’s world. The book covertly addresses important issues such as colonialism, appropriation, suppression, and erasure. The cast of characters are diverse and people of color. I was also excited to learn about the Indigenous Amazigh of Northwest Africa, including the warrior queen Dihya, who serves as a symbol of feminism and anti-colonialism. I had never heard of her before nor this group of indigenous people of North Africa.
 I did not get invested into the story until the second half of the book as Amani becomes involved in the court politics, brewing rebellion, and becomes involved with Idris. I enjoyed their star-crossed romance, but was happy to see that it was not the focus of the story. I also really appreciated that Maram was not your token villain, but also had layers to her character. She reminded me a lot of Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles who evoked sympathy and hate in equal measures. Despite the uneven pacing issues, I still want to know more about this world and am looking forward to the next book.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong violence in the book. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
2 Responses
  1. As long as the slow parts don’t totally take me out of the book, I think I can handle the uneven pacing. I am curious about the influences in the book and I think this is a fantasy I would enjoy.

  2. I probably won't read this book but the review made me think about it? Are you on Goodreads? I am trying to add friends on Goodreads who have similar reading interests as me. Let me know.

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