Hello Gemmies! I am so excited to participate in the TBR and Beyond Blog Book Tour for The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. This book is bloody, brutal, and absolutely brilliant. It is chock full of female empowerment, sisterhood, and diverse representation. First up on the tour is my book review...enjoy!
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Delacorte Press, Ash Literary
Publishing Date: February 09, 2021
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.
Please note: I received a digital ARC of this book (via NetGalley) from its publisher in exchange for an honest and fair review.
Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! This book absolutely blew me away! It far exceeded all of my expectations. It's beautiful female warriors destroying the patriarchy, what more do you need?!?! The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna is everything I needed and even more! Let's start with the cover...GORGEOUS! This has to be one of the single most beautiful book covers I have ever seen. The imagery immediately pulls you in and lets you know that you are going to get something special. The colors are bright and appealing and I love all of the jewelry and hair adornments. In short, solid gold magic!
The Gilded Ones is the first book in the Deathless series. We follow a group a girls who are considered outcasts in a patriarchal society because of their golden blood and enhanced strength. Trigger Warning: This society is extremely cruel and abusive to women. There are instances of physical and emotional abuse as well as body damage. Namina Forna takes on hard core issues like inequality, rape, violence, sexism, racism, past trauma, and xenophobia all in an epic fantasy setting. Although some of the scenarios can be hard to take at times, make no mistake this is a super empowering feminist novel. It's not hard to see parallels to events taking place in real life.
At its heart, The Gilded Ones is a coming of age story. We follow Deka and a diverse group of female characters on their journey to find their voices and power in a world set against them. Once discovered as "unclean" Deka and the others are given the choice to die or become a soldier in the emperors army; trained to fight a monstrous enemy. But all is not as it seems. There is treachery all around and the creatures are not the only danger Deka and the other girls will face. Each of these ladies had relatable stories and unique personalities. Namina Forna brought each one to life and I found myself invested in their well being, especially Britta. As the story unfolds these warriors develop a deep sisterhood rooted in healing and love. They become comfortable with themselves and become a family.
The world building in The Gilded Ones is absolutely brilliant. There are unique regions, a complex religious system, mythical creatures, and more! Namina Forna made the Kingdom of Otera feel real and totally unique. I was immediately immersed from page one. The only complaint I have is that I have to wait for book two to see how the story will continue to unfold. If you love epic West African inspired fantasies, root for the underdog, and believe in kick ass heroines, then The Gilded Ones is for you! To put it shortly GO READ THIS BOOK!
Published by Delacorte Press/Ash Literary, The Gilded Ones is available for purchase from all major booksellers. I give The Gilded Ones 5 out of 5 gems. I cannot wait to read more stories set in this universe. Happy Reading!