{Blog Tour} Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna + 15 Thoughts

The Gilded Ones

Deathless #1

Namina Forna

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Publication Date: February 9, 2021

Format: E-ARC

Goodreads Synopsis

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 herseelf.

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

Grief, Death of a Loved One, Mention of Abuse, Beheading, Drowning, Torture, Blood Depiction, Sexism, Impaling, Mention of Rape, Whipping, Mutilation, PTSD, Child Abuse, Racism, Xenophobia, Colorism

“We all have a choice right now. Are we girls or are we demons? Are we going to die or are we going to survive?”

This book was everything I wanted, needed and asked for long before I even realized it. I… I’m kind of speechless.

But! That won’t do because I am part the blog tour and words need to be said about this amazing thing we call a book. So excuse my floundering for a bit.

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I mean, we have an army of deathless girls in a patriarchal world surviving. Rituals every 15 year old girl has to take for ‘purity’s’ sake. We have sisterhood and self love and Black girl magic and just… EVERYTHING.

And the real world topics were interweaved so seamlessly: xenophobia to racism, abuse, rape, misogyny– you name it. Yes, it made this read a bit tougher to get through, it gives of a heavy vibe of The Handmaiden’s Tale if I’m honest– girls have no choice in wearing masks in public, they are tested for ‘purity’, killed if they aren’t and their autonomy is marriage/children. Yet, we also see that is patriarchal view is still prevalent once Deka leaves her village. The alaki are only useful for the Empire, who had introduced this fate to begin with. It’s a rough world out here for women, but it was necessary to read, it was raw and it was important.

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For a 400+ page book, this one flew by extremely quick. From the first chapter, things were put in motion and we had the foundation set nicely. And this might just be a me thing, but I appreciated the training montages being glossed over. There’s glimpse enough to know how training went down and that’s just enough for me.

There’s even a little mystery out there! Which wasn’t too hard to figure out; a great thing for people such as I, but it was also hard enough to keep me engaged until the very end.

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“No matter my origins, there is worth in what I am.”

Yet, the heart of this story truly is our main character, Deka. This girl went through such an arc– we see her go from this shy girl with low self esteem who thinks she’s “unclean”, to this warrior. She was someone to root for, to relate to, to connect with. And if she was the heart, the soul was the sisterhood. The camaraderie of it all, the loyalty– even when things seemed to look fishy for our main character, she had her sisters in arms through and through. I loved how these girls found a family in each other and their brother in arms.

However, speaking of… the romance may be the weakest point, but that isn’t even a negative if I’m honest. Yes, a lack of romance would’ve been great or even a queer main romance at that, but the progression between the two, from partners to friendship to lovers, that ease that gradually grows between two people, that unexplainable bond that grew….. oh my god I adore it and I can’t even be mad at it they were GREAT.

I love that this can read as a standalone and I love it even more that there is a sequel in the works. I can firmly say this book makes me feel so empowered, this has secured its place on my top favorites of the year list.

Disclaimer: my thoughts are a messy mess… sorry in advance.

Awwwww whoever this Britta girl is…. we like her

Trans representation perhaps??? Maybe??? Hopefully??

This book makes me feel so empowered geez

This potential romance…. 👀 I’m enjoying it nonetheless

yesssssss YESSSSSSSSSSSS GET IT

THEY [SPOILER SPOILER] YOUR MOTHER DUH

White Handsssssss where’s the trust? whERE

DON’T GO ASKING QUESTIONS JUST GO

now, I know {SPOILER SPOILER] didn’t just happen. No. I refuse.

ok nevermind

I know good and goddamn well this didn’t make my favorites list off the rip

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DOOOOO

{intelligible sounds x3]

Namina Forna is a young adult novelist based in Los Angeles, and the author of the upcoming 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 has an MFA in film and TV production from USC School of Cinematic Arts and a BA from Spelman College. She works as a screenwriter in LA and loves telling stories with fierce female leads.

Twitter | Instagram | Website | Goodreads

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