THE GILDED ONES by Namina Forna

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.



Title : The Gilded Ones
Author : Namina Forna
Series : Deathless #1
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA Fantasy, BIPOC
Publisher : Usbourne Publishing
Release Date : February 4, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★



Micky’s 4 star review

When I read a YA fantasy, I have certain expectations and some of that is that I will see familiar tropes, storylines and features to the story. The Gilded Ones bucked the trends and delivered on what felt to be a particularly unique story.

Deka the main character, was a young woman who was oppressed and as her inital true nature was revealed, her kind was reviled, a demon of these lands. There were so many more reveals to come but the idea of a race that was tortured and persecuted made for a compelling story.

The Gilded Ones was a story mainly about women and it was a story steeped in misogyny. Otera was a land that favoured male roles and oppressed women and girls. There were themes that were difficult to read and witness but there were hopeful and empowering elements woven through this story. There were also some great twists to the story as characters were revealed. I appreciate a storyline that makes you question what you initally thought.

This was a complex world but the world-building was layered in a way that didn’t confuse and brought you along the journey at a pace that worked. I will definitely be continuing with this series and I am impressed by Namina Forna’s debut.

Thank you to Usbourne Publishing for the early review copy.