Welcome to my stop (a day late) on the TBR and Beyond Tours Book Tour for The Gilded Ones (Deathless #1) by Namina Forna. I was so excited when we scheduled this tour and couldn’t wait to start. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to see the tour schedule for other content creators.
Thank you to Namina Forna and Delacorte for providing me with an eARC for this review.
Note: I read my Fairyloot Finished Copy for this review.
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 Book
Title: The Gilded Ones
Series: Deathless #1
Author: Namina Forna
Publishing Date: February 9, 2021
Page Length: 432
Age Range: YA
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.
Rep: BIPOC character
Content Warning: graphic murder, sexual assault (off page), racism, xenophobia, misogyny
I have no words for the amount of love I have for this book, but let’s give it a try.
The characters were well developed and felt like real people. Deka grew along with us and we learned valuable information about her world as we did. How she learned felt true and never felt forced. Her relationships with the other aliki was authentic and deep. However, Forna does not spend much of the page showing the growth. We see the important bits and despite not being with Deka the entire time (there are time jumps) we can still see (and feel) the true friendship and trust that has developed over this time. Her partner, Keita, was such a sweet boy in the end. It is interesting to watch this relationship grow – like with the girls, we only see snit bits of their time together, but always feels robust in development.
The world itself is so imaginative, but not so far fetched that one can’t imagine it. You can see the real world connections that Forna used while writing, but the imagination required to come up with these fantastical elements added a whole other level to the world. Forna managed to tell us about an entire world and how that society is run without feeling info-dumpy or having the reader feel overwhelmed with the fantastical elements. There is enough there for a reader to sink their teeth into and grow while we learn about this world.
The plot of the story has many ins and outs, a lot of political intrigue and plotting that I couldn’t predict the ending to. When I thought I was starting to piece things together – much like Deka – I would be given new information that had me questioning my train of though. To the point where the ending of this book blew me away and had me surprised by the amount of twists that Forna managed to weave into the story. At no point did anything feel too farfetched or implausible within the world designed by Forna.
As you can see, I immensely enjoyed The Gilded Ones and I’m no dying for the next in the series. This book wraps up all loose ends, but knowing this is a series and not knowing where Forna could take me from here… I just need the next book! If you are a fan of These Savage Songs for the “monsters”, Descendants of the Crane for its political intrigue, or just looking for an amazing fantasy read, then you’ll love this!
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