- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Publication Date: February 9th 2021
- Series – The Deathless #1
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.
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*Thank you to Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.*
I started reading The Gilded Ones late at night, merely hoping to read the first couple of chapters to try and get into the story, but the story was immediately gripping and exciting and I had to force myself to stop reading well after midnight. The next day I picked it up again and immediately started reading after I woke up, and kept reading while I had breakfast. I just could not stop reading until I finished it. I loved this book!
In Otera, religion dictates women should be subservient to men, hide their faces lest they offend their god, and are forbidden from doing essentially everything unrelated to wifely duties and child-rearing, even something as innocuous as running. When girls turn 16, their blood is tested. If it bleeds red, they are pure, but if it bleeds gold, they are impure, demons to be killed immediately. But the reality is much more complicated than that.
The plot is so immersive, unique, and unpredictable. I was very interested in this world, the powers, the near-immortal alaki, the deathshrieks, foul creatures that can kill men with a shriek and steal girls only for them to never be seen again… I took many reading notes and had many questions, and the story just kept me guessing until the end. It ended on a very satisfying note and I’m eager to read more from this author.
This was such an oppressive, patriarchal society and it feels wrong and infuriating to read certain things at the beginning but I love how the mentality of the characters evolves; there are certain feminist qualities to this book that I really liked (but I won’t say more because of spoilers).
The main character is Deka, just a normal girl praying to bleed red and a chance at a normal, happy life. But then she bleeds gold and her life turns upside down. She was so resilient and fierce from the very start and I loved that about her, and I love that she didn’t let any of the atrocities that occurred in this book break her.
Although I wish there had been a bigger focus on the girls overcoming their emotional trauma, Deka included. It’s not that I think it was poorly done but I wish there was just a bit more to it, or that it was done differently…
One thing I loved about this book was the lack of a romance subplot. There was some romance, I suppose, but it was so minor, it was more like an afterthought. This book focuses much more on familial love, found family, and the love and loyalty between sisters.
Overall, The Gilded Ones is an incredibly unique, exciting story, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. With all that being said, I rate this book: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Content Warnings: graphic depictions of violence and death, emotional abuse, mentions of sexual abuse and rape.
About the Author
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.
about the tour
This blog tour is being hosted by TBRandBeyondTours and will run from February 8th to February 14th. Several other talented bloggers and instagrammers are participating in this tour, so please go check out their posts, and read this amazing book!
Virtual Tour Schedule for THE GILDED ONES
Tuesday, February 9th at 9pm ET/6pm PT
Featuring Actress and Comedian Kym Whitley
Located in San Diego, CA | Event via Crowdcast
Friday, February 12th at 8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT
African Mythology Smackdown
Featuring Authors Jordan Ifueko and Roseanne Brown
Located in Decatur, GA | Event via Crowdcast
Monday, February 15th at 7pm ET/4pm PT
Featuring Authors Dhonielle Clayton, Kim Johnson, and Christina Hammonds Reed
Located in Coral Gables, FL | Event via Crowdcast
Tuesday, February 16th at 7pm ET/4pm PT
Featuring Author Stephanie Garber
Located in Brookline, MA | Event via Zoom
Wednesday, February 17th at 7pm ET/4pm PT
Featuring Authors Renée Watson, Frederick Joseph,and Maika & Maritza Moulite
Located Nationally | Event via Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
Wednesday, February 24th at 7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT
Penguin Teen Canada Zoom Trivia Night
Featuring Authors Amanda Joy and Frederick Joseph
Located in Canada | Event via Zoom