Cover Image: The Gilded Ones

The Gilded Ones

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Member Reviews

Going into this book I was apprehensive, I feel like once you're compared to Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone you are facing massive shoes to fill. 

And for a while, I felt like maybe those shoes were not going to be filled. As I watched the protagonist resent herself for her golden blood (which on a side note, YOUR BLOOD IS GOLDEN HOW IS THAT NOT SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF?) I found it difficult to believe this book would live up to the hype.

But then we arrived at the camp.

Deka is young and craving a sense of belonging and normalcy and then she almost finds it - but her abilities are so much more than the abilities of those around her. With White Hands as her guide, she finds not only does she belong but that she has value.

The moral dilemma she faces when it comes to the death shrieks I found endearing, I particularly enjoyed the mixed messages about these golden demons from years before.

This book feels diverse, but not just for the sake of diversity. It places girls and boys from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of preferences and doesn't make any of them feel fundamentally wrong.

Once I'd dug my teeth in, it was really difficult for me to stop reading. I'm very impatiently waiting for the second book.
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The eARC copy of The Gilded Ones opens with a content warning for scenes of violence which made me very hesitant to read it as I’m uncomfortable with written descriptions of graphic violence. But I thought okay, I’ve been warned and I can prepare myself for what is to come.

And the opening 10% of this book that I read is brilliant in so many ways. I was immediately taken in by the story. It begins with 16 year old Deka who lives in a patriarchal society. When a girl turns 16 she must take part in a blood ritual to show that she is pure. If her blood runs red she becomes a woman in her society... if however she bleeds gold she is seen as a demon and is cast out from her village. 

The scenes leading up to the purity test really helped establish Deka’s world. I found her to be a very engaging character and was very keen to get to know where her story would lead to.

But during the purity test there is an attack from demons and in the midst of a bloody battle Deka bleeds gold.

She is then subjected to knifings, beheading, disembowelling... and I tried to read through this because the story is so riveting. I wanted to somehow get past the violence to the heart of the story. But it felt to me that the violent descriptions would never end so by 10% I had to admit defeat and reluctantly decided to DNF this book. I simply felt much too queasy from the violent descriptions and knew that sadly I was not the right reader for this novel. 

I must admit that I am quite surprised that in a YA novel there is as much violence as this. Perhaps I am mistaken but I thought that YA novels would be lighter on violent imagery than this one. I understand there is a  need to show the harshness with which Deka was tortured by her own people but sadly for me it was too much. I’m very sorry not to continue with my read of this novel as the story really is intriguing and from just the 10% I read I know that the author is capable of crafting interesting characters and a compelling plot.  

Here on NetGalley I am rating the book a neutral 3 stars as NetGalley requires a rating with each review because any lower seems unfair as I was unable to finish the book. I wish the author every good luck with this book and hope it finds its right audience. 

My one recommendation to NetGalley would be that if a book contains (or requires) content warnings that these content warnings should be stated with the book’s blurb on the website. Had I read the content warning about violence before requesting this book I would not have requested it. And therefore my eARC copy could have gone to another reader who is not sensitive to graphic violence as I am. 

*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley. This review contains my honest thoughts and opinions*
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This was everything it promised to be. An epic fantasy with wonderous world-building and character development and a plot that had me on the edge of my seat. Deka is everything I want from a main character, she's strong, brave and the journey of self discovery that she goes on is inspiring. I loved reading about her arc from a farm girl, to a warrior who could take down armies. The side characters are likeable with enough depth so they don't feel two dimensional. The descriptors throughout brought this world to life, I could see the images of this story in my mind as clear as day. Although the plot lagged a little around to 60% mark, it quickly picked back up again and was action packed from there until the end. Also, quickly, the plot twist was mind blowing! Normally, I'm able to predict things like this but this one came at me out of no where, it completely threw me through a whirlwind and I cannot wait to see where Forna takes it in the next instalment.
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This book surprised me a lot. It is not simply about women and girls fighting the patriarchy but about these powerful beings who demolish it whilst dripping in golden blood. There are quite a lot of traumatizing parts to it and the trauma is never forgotten. I found the Gilded ones very interesting and look forward to reading more about this mythology in future books. The thing that struck out to me was how feminism can be taught to young men and boys and change their way of thinking whilst older generations typically are not able to be educated as such which felt like a very realistic and well made point. I genuinely found myself drawn to Deka's transformation from a shy unsure girl to a powerful and fierce Nuru. Looking forward to any sequels that follow and Deka's continued journey.
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Amazing, humbling and an awakening. 

Namina Forna weaves a world that parallels our own in so many ways but also one that is layered in magic. 

From the start Deka is a girl after my own heart and one whom I would be proud to call my daughter, sister or friend. She and her friends, Britta, Belcalis, Adwapa, Asha, Katya and of course Keita (amongst others) show the meaning of true friendship and unconditional love. I grew to love them as though they were my own friends. 

I asked the Author Namina for any questions she would like to ask of her readers and she returned with these: 

“Oh my goodness, that’s amazing! I would ask that you look at the culture of the world and how women are treated and see if there’s any parallels to ours. Also, the obedience to the Infinite wisdoms, what are the parallels for our world? And what do the masks represent?”

I won’t spoil your reading by giving you my thoughts on these, but as you read, maybe keep these questions in mind and see what answers you draw from your reading experience. I’d be interested to hear them.

I cannot wait for the next instalment 💛
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