Book Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Otera may be vast, but we intend to take back every last inch. It’s time to reclaim the One Kingdom and make it ours again.

The Gilded Ones is a violent read. Some readers might not feel comfortable with the level of violence found in this amazing book.


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.

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My Thoughts

I was not ready for what The Gilded Ones brought to the table. From the first few lines I was hooked.

Today is the Ritual of Purity.

We are introduced to this world, on the day of Deka’s purity ceremony. Girls are tested at 16 to see if they are pure, having red blood, or demons with gold blood. Before Deka can be tested, Deathshrieks attack her village changing her life forever, as she is discovered to be a demon. An interesting concept that I had to know more about. After this scene, the story slows. I was never bored, but have grown tired of the “chosen one goes off to a new place to train” plot. The story picks back up as Deka starts to hunt Deathshrieks. It was an exciting shift into the unknown of Forna’s creative talents. Deka is different, you know that from the first few pages, but Forna explores Deka’s abnormalities highlighting the potential consequences of their use in the second half of the book. Making the last 50% a thrilling read.

You might get towards the end and think, “hm I saw that coming.” You might be able to predict every cool thing about The Gilded Ones, regardless I think it is still worth the read. Namina Forna not only features characters of color, but a diverse cast of characters of various backgrounds unique to the world she has crafted. The concept of The Gilded Ones is almost as noteworthy as Forna’s world building. I can’t wait to learn more about Deka, her powers, and the future of this world. This is a series I will be keeping up with.

Should You Read The Gilded Ones?

Absolutely! If you enjoy fantasy YA, The Gilded Ones is a read for you.

Have you read The Gilded Ones? What were your thoughts?

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