“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.” (via Goodreads)
When the Vathek invaded Amani’s homeworld, everything changed. For the better, the Vathek insisted as they remade a world into their image. For the worse, the people of Cadiz and Andala whispered quietly amongst themselves. Not for long, vowed the rebels hiding in the countryside.
Daud drops the reader into the story a few decades after King Mathis’ conquest. The war and subsequent purge are recent enough that many remember life before, but settled enough that the survivors are resigned to their fate. Teenage Amani has only ever know life under occupation, but in her small agricultural community, her cultural heritage has survived. The night she and several other girls receive their daan—tattoos denoting genealogy and familial aspirations—is meant to be a celebration. But instead she’s kidnapped by soldiers and whisked away to the palace. There, her daan is cut from her skin, her body beaten, and her spirit weakened as she is forced to become the body double of Princess Maram…
To read the rest of my review, head over to Tor.com.
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.
Thanks to Flatiron Books for sending me a review copy.
Do the world a favor and buy this from an indie bookstore or borrow it from your local public library.