Author: Somaiya Daud
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: 28 August 2018
Number of Pages: 320
Genre: YA, Fantasy
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.
*I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review*
This is an own voices Moroccan fantasy and sci-fi novel which I feel in love with from the beginning.
It follows the story of Amani who lives on a lesser moon of Andala a planet that has been conquered by the Vath, a ruthless empire who after causing the destruction of their own planet are intent on conquering the solar system Andala resides in and destroying their culture. Amani is taken prisoner by Vath droids during her, and the other girls in her village, coming of age ceremony and taken to the palace of the Vath King as she looks exactly like Princess Maram the heir to the Vath throne. In order to keep her family safe Amani takes up the role of Maram’s body double.
I really liked the character of Amani and the way that she is able to see the good in Maram despite what she has done to her. I also like her growth throughout the book as she doesn’t start of as a fighter but her resilience and will to fight back grows throughout the book. Princess Maram grew on me throughout the book as we learned more about her backstory. I also like the tentative friendship that Amani and Maram build throughout the book.
The romance between Idris, Maram’s fiancé, and Amani is very insta lovey and at the moment I’m really feeling it but I’m hoping it will grow on me in the next book
I loved the world building and the fact that it never feels info dumpy. I also liked the blend of sci-fi, Moroccan mythology and culture.
This book also deals with important and heavy issues from colonization, suppression, war, loss and physical abuse.
Overall, I really enjoyed this and we need more books like this in the SFF world. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.