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I would like to thank Hear Our Voices Blog Tours for including me in the lineup for this tour. I received the ARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed are my personal opinion.
Publisher | Penguin Random House
Release date | February 9, 2021
Genre | YA Fiction
Description Summary | A really well written fantasy with strong heroines. A page turner in adventure but caution: it is very gory.
Book Summary | (Skip to Review)
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.
“We have a choice right now. Are we girls or are we demon? Are we going to die or are we going to survive?”
The Gilded Ones is one of those books that I was dying to get my hands on, I just knew I would have an incredible time with it. So I’m so happy to say that it did deliver!
My favorite thing about this book is the found family trope where Deka finds solace with the other “impure” girls and they become this whole badass feminist sister squad. I feel this sends a strong message of us girls banding together, supporting each other, and leaning against each other. And that is amazing!
I love the variety of girls we’ve seen written in the book, girls of all sorts of colors, sizes, and shapes but all united through their shared grit. It’s so refreshing to see a book highlight girls not for their delicate or sharp features and looks, but rather on who they are as a person.
The story essentially revolved around a “chosen one” trope which was centered on Deka. This books plays heavily on that so if you’re not into the “chosen one” trope than you’ll find a hard time liking this book.
Similarly however, I was dutifully afraid that I’d get bored with it, due to the fact everything would revolve around one person and in fantasy I usually like multiple or dual POVs. However, Forna executed this really well.
The plot was solid yet Forna has managed to not reveal all of the cards, even to the very end so the reader is left wanting to get their hands on the next book. It was such a page turner, and though I wouldn’t necessarily call it a high stakes fantasy, it was highly enjoyable.
Oh and the enemies to lovers here?
“You know, I’m relieved too.”
“Why is that?”
“I was afraid you were too pretty to get your hands dirty”.
His eyes widen in surprise, and, for a moment, the side of his lips quirk. “Well, we’re both full of surprises, aren’t we?”
Forna also has a way of writing that would leave the reader understanding what the other character feels even if it’s from Deka POV solely, because she writes in little details of movements, facial expression, and persona that would indicate to you what everyone else around is thinking.
She cuts chapters in an agonizing point that you can’t help but want to read the next chapter and the next and the next.
Deka is a really well written heroine who had a fantastic character development throughout the book. I loved how we went along her inner journey of turmoil, resignation, finding purpose and courage throughout.
I really appreciate her cool and somber nature, but if provoked she’s not afraid to show some teeth. I’m just so intrigued to see where her character picks up from this story because I have a feeling we haven’t seen everything there is to see from Deka.
Do I recommend? Yes, this is one adventure fantasy you should read this year.
Book Aesthetic Mood Board
I decided to do a book aesthetic mood board. It’s something different than what you guys normally see of me, but I love mood boards so hopefully you’ll like this one!
Also do check out all the other bloggers on this tour!
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.
Thanks again for HOV for allowing me to participate in my first ever blog tour!
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