Welcome to my spot on The Gilded Ones blog tour, as organised by the Terminal Tours team. I was so excited to get a spot on this tour, as this is a book I’ve been hugely excited for since it was first announced. I only got more excited as I started reading the book, and I have so many thoughts to share. The schedule for the rest of the posts on the tour can be found here, and it’s full of some brilliant bloggers that are well worth following.
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.
Rating: Five stars
Deka is a lead character who is easy to love, and naturally endearing. The horrors that she goes through after being found ‘impure’ horrified me and made me cry – not just because of how horrendous they are, but because I know that so many women around the world are treated in appalling ways that are justified by reasons just as bizarre and, as here, fictional. That point was so essential to this story, and I held it with me as I read.
The journey that Deka undertakes as an alaki is nothing compared to that which she undertakes in herself, both with her gifts and without. She goes from fearing her blood, hating being at all different, to declaring herself proudly the descendant of a demon. I loved watching her character development, not just to this point, but beyond – when she starts questioning the actions she’s being asked to undertake. The relationships she develops are based entirely on the trust with her bloodsisters having her back, and she having theirs, and the pairings with the male warriors also come to be powerful when both in battle and social situations.
Deka is different even for an alaki, and she moves from being self conscious to feeling exploited for this ability. While still trying to harbor the respect for those teaching and in control of her, she is faced with an internal struggle, especially when it comes to her attention that the persons she had most been putting her trust in might not be all they seem…
Overall, I found this book to be powerful, emotive, and a strong depiction of just how easily women can be shamed for being at all different. The book is reflective on this point as well as being a simply brilliant read. I can’t wait to see what the author produces next.
About The Author
Namina Forna is a young adult novelist based in Los Angeles, and the author of the epic fantasy YA novel The Gilded Ones. Originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, she moved to the US when she was nine and has been traveling back and forth ever since. Namina loves building fantastical worlds and telling stories with fierce female leads.