Book Reviews, YA book reviews

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna – ARC Review

My Rating ~ Four & a half Stars


Format: Paperback

Pages: 410

Publisher: Usborne Publishing




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.




Thank you so much to Usborne Publishing for sending me a copy of The Gilded Ones in exchange for an honest review!


Deka is desperate to bleed red and be proven pure during her blood ceremony.  She’s sure everything will  be ok….except for that niggling voice reminding her that sometimes she’s a little different to the other girls.  When her worst fears are realised and her blood runs gold, she’s sentenced to die like all the other ‘un-pure’ girls.  After a horrifying ordeal, she is ‘saved’ by a stranger, who takes her to a training ground with others of her kind. It is here that she find friends and starts to learn exactly what she is.

The Gilded Ones is a magical journey that’s fast paced and often gruesome.  Tasked with waging war against monsters, Deka and her friends go from being women who weren’t even allowed to walk the street without an escort, to warriors in the middle of a blood thirsty feud.  The hard won friendships, that had to allow for the horrors in some of the girls pasts, were brilliant to read.  The world building was well done – the author gave us all the details we needed to picture the setting, without it bogging down the story with details.  I really appreciated this, because too heavy world building is one of the reasons I’m finding it hard to read fantasy right now.  Namina Forna struck the balance just right.

Although this is a YA fantasy, there were definitely aspects of dark horror woven in to the story.  Some of the human inflicted horror was exceptionally chilling, but it made for a hard hitting narrative I won’t easily forget.  The descriptions of not only the monsters they were fighting, but other creatures in the world, were incredible.  Deka also had a shape-shifting pet and I am always here for pets in fantasy!

I think this will be such an important book, with themes revolving around feminism, racism and the fight to survive.  The cover is absolutely incredible and I’m happy to say the story inside lives up to the beauty outside! (I have the stunning gilded ARC and I will absolutely need the hardcover finished copy too!)



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