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Tea-drinking introvert found either behind a book or within arm's reach of one. Book reviewer, and book sniffer. You may have seen me on W24, BooksLive, Aerodrome, Bark Magazine, CultNoise Magazine, or Expound Magazine.

28 Sept 2021

Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

For Deka’s whole life, she has been raised according to the principles of Oyomo; that a woman’s place is to serve and honour men. Yet on the day of the Ritual of Purity, in which Deka will be cut to demonstrate the purity of her blood, everything changes. Instead of the crimson life force that flows through the veins of the other village girls; Deka’s blood is liquid gold. She is Unpure, and the sentence for this crime is death, because the Unpure are descended from demons.

Only Deka doesn’t die. Again and again, the elders try to end her life, yet her spirit and body remain intact. Just as the elders think they have discovered the way to truly kill her, she is saved by an unexpected source; an emissary of the emperor.

Instead of death, Deka must join an army of girls like her to fight the worst threat that the land has ever faced. And the emperor is willing to sacrifice them all to win.

But when training starts, Deka realises that there’s more to her new position, and the army itself, than she could ever have expected. What she learns shakes the very foundations of her world.

The Gilded Ones satisfies every possible craving a fan of Young Adult could have. Namina Forna has given us a glorious mythology with horrific yet strangely familiar limitations and social ills. We have a love story that is like no other, a generous dose of magic and intrigue, and even a range of action sequences. All of this has been woven together and perceived through a fantastic (literally) lens to make it pure magic. Once you start reading, you cannot stop. The characters are too enticing, the sub plots too arresting, and the writing too convincing and powerful to refuse.

The Gilded Ones will impress more than just YA fans – it will woo lovers of myth and legend, the seekers of fantasy, and those who want a peek of realism through struggle and inequality. It is superb.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna is published by Usborne, AND IS AVAILABEL IN South Africa from Penguin Random House South Africa.

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