Book Reviews

Book Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself. 

Title: The Gilded Ones
Author: Namina Forna
Publisher: Delacorte
Format: Digital ARC
Publication Date: February 9th 2021
Rating:  4.8//5

I want to start of by saying I will be posting this review twice. The Gilded Ones release date got pushed back to February 9th 2021, so I will be posting this review now, and then again early next year to help hype up this book.

I loved this book so much. It’s such a unique and interesting story.

Our story starts out on the day of the Ritual of Purity – a day where very 15 year old girl gets cut – if they bleed red they are deemed “pure” and if they bleed gold, they’re “impure”.
The society that Deka lives in is an extremely patriarchal society. Women are not allowed to do anything. In fact, until they’re fifteenth birthday, they’re not even allowed to hold any sort of sharp tool, go running, or any sort of activity that could accidentally make them bleed. After the ritual, they are still only objects, useful for staying at home and having babies. Ugh.

So what happens to the “impure” girls? They’re written off as demons, and are killed. But here’s the kicker – these demons girls don’t die the same way as “normal” people, they heal quickly and are extremely hard to kill, they each have a ‘final death’ and from what I can understand that is the only way they can actually die. Which means some girls are killed over, and over, and over again, while their golden blood is collected and sold. Because apparently you can despise someone and use their body for personal gain at the same time.

When it’s time for the ritual, Deka’s blood runs gold. Her father turns on her, her best friend can’t even look at her, and she somehow commanded the Deathshriek’s. The elders immediately put her in a cellar and kill her, and then they kill her eight more times.

Until the day a woman comes to free her and bring her to the capital, to train, to be a true Alaki – the name for the girls with the cursed blood. The emperor has decided to use the Alaki’s to kill the Deathshriek’s – the monstrous enemy of the empire.

The Deathshriek’s are some very interesting creatures, they’re pale monsters that attack villages throughout the empire, stealing girls and killing men, and for some reason, Deka can command them.

Interesting plot right?

One thing I really loved about this story was that the plot was really well done, I could truly picture the training grounds, the temples, everything, so well in my mind, but IN ADDITION I felt like I was truly getting to know the characters. Every character, Deka, White Hands, Britta, Keita, they all had their own distinct personalities and attributes, it was so easy to distinguish the different voices.

And speaking of Keita…

I loved the romance in this story. It felt real and natural, and I grew to absolutely adore Keita as the story went on.

I did guess some of the major plot twists somewhat early on, but the hints at these twists were so well done and woven perfectly in the story. It’s one of those twits that although it may shock you, it makes perfect sense to the story and now that it happened, you can’t imagine things playing out any other way.
BUT there was one part that I didn’t see coming at all, and I actually had to set the book down for a moment as I had a “WTF JUST HAPPENED” moment.

The ending of this book works really well too – after I finished I looked at it on Goodreads and was surprised to find that it was the beginning of a series. Don’t get me wrong, I want more Deka and White Hands, but the ending was so well done, and although there’s still a lot more that could happen, it didn’t end on any sort of dramatic cliffhanger.

Overall though, I really loved this book (in case you couldn’t tell). I cannot wait for it to be released and I encourage everyone to go out and pre-order it now!

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna”

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