On the blog today, we have one of the first stops on the blog tour for The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna! This was one of my most anticipated books of 2021, partly because of the cover, partly because it’s a debut, and partly because it sounded so freakin’ good, so I’m hyped to be on the tour. You can check out the rest of the tour here and show other bloggers and The Gilded Ones some love.
Book ReviewThe Gilded Ones Release Date: 9th February 2021
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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.
I was so sad to see The Gilded Ones be pushed back to 2021 last year because I’ve been excited for it ever since I heard the announcement. A warrior girl whose blood runs gold, who joins an army of similar girls? Yes please! But it’s ok, the book is coming out now.
The first third of The Gilded Ones was pretty much five star worthy for me. There was a tonne of action, some awfully violent and harrowing scenes (tw for torture and death), and the start of what promised to be a lovely female friendship.
The middle of the book is where the story started to drag for me. There were suddenly a tonne of characters that I didn’t really care for, a romance that was pretty much just instalove, and some strange time jumps too. None of these were major issues for me, but I was surprised at the turn the book took because of the impressively strong first part.
I think it would have been better for the author to have spent longer developing all the relationships in this book rather than continuing the action, at least in part. When these girls were in danger, I just didn’t particularly care, because we weren’t given enough time to get to know them anyway.
BUT, The Gilded Ones picks up again in the final part of the book. The action all comes together, and the strong world building that has been present throughout really starts to rear its head. The ending made me incredibly excited for the sequel, and I was also left wondering how the heck I am going to recap this book because so much was happening.
I do think the final showdown could have gone on for a bit longer, but otherwise I’m so happy with where this went (aside from the instalove… eck).
I can’t wait to read more about these girls in the sequel, as I think their relationships are the most interesting parts of the book, along with Deka herself. I think if Forna ends up focusing on the relationships more in the sequel and really starts to build them up, I’m going to love it.
Also, there’s an animal companion?? Why didn’t anyone tell me!!
About the Author
Namina Forna is a young adult novelist based in Los Angeles, andthe author of the upcoming epic fantasy YA novelThe 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 andTV 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. – Website | Twitter | Instagram
Buy the Book
Like the sound of The Gilded Ones? Here are some easily accessible links for you to purchase the book!
Interested in more 2021 Debuts? Check out my Debut Showcase feature, in which I talk about a tonne of authors with debut books coming out in 2021. While you’re here, perhaps consider taking part in the Debut Author Challenge? There are giveaways, readathons, read-ins, and more!