One Sentence Synopsis
After her blood runs gold during a purity ceremony, Deka is labelled as an “impure demon” and sent to training camp where she will be taught to kill for the country that made her an outcast.
“We all have a choice right now. Are we girls or are we demons? Are we going to die or are we going to survive?”
Thank you to the publisher, Delacorte Press, and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!
When I say I am MAD at myself for waiting so long to pick up this gem of a book. What was I thinking?! Clearly my senses left me for a little while because this is everything I could want in a YA fantasy and more!
We’re following the tale of Deka, a young girl who has grown up always knowing her place. And that place is to be subservient to men, as the priests have taught her. Her greatest wish is for her blood to be the color of purity when it’s her time to be tested; to be red like all other normal girls. But, when the Ritual of Purity arrives, Deka’s blood runs gold… the blood of impurity. Of demons. She soon finds herself caught up in a life of pain and despair. When she is offered the chance to serve her country and, possibly, be made pure once again, she snatches it. But things aren’t exactly as they seem and Deka will soon learn that there is so much more to her blood than she could have imagined.
You ever get that feeling while reading a book that it would make a fantastic movie? That’s the overwhelming feeling I had the entire time I was devouring The Gilded Ones! Turns out the author, Namina Forna, is a screenwriter, so it makes sense! This book is a masterpiece of storytelling, of pacing, of character development, and my only wish is that I could have more. Which is kind of a good thing as it is the first book in a series! I loved everything about this book and can’t wait to continue Deka’s story. I will say to check trigger and content warnings before diving into this one. It delves into some dark topics and does not shy away.
My favorite aspect of this book would have to watching Deka develop as a character. It’s incredible to see her growth from this naïve girl who has been told all her life that her only worth is in how well she can take care of a man to this fearless young woman who knows that she is more than that. I particularly loved reading about her time at the Warthu Bera, the military academy where Deka receives her training. It made me think of basic training so much that I got a little nostalgic, lol. I enjoyed the gradual way new information about her world began to broaden and change her world views. It felt so genuine that it was truly like watching Deka grow up. All the characters in this book are well-crafted, but Deka is definitely something special.
Final thoughts: What can I say other than “When does book two come out?” This book was absolutely incredible! The plot had me gripped instantly, the characters were engaging, the world-building was *chef’s kiss*, and it added up to a book that I will be thinking about for awhile to come. This had the same energy as watching a movie in the theaters: I was completely caught up in the story and, after it was done and I emerged back into the real world, it took a minute to adjust. It definitely has darker themes and it doesn’t shy away from the very real brutality that a lot of girls and women face. If you’re okay with that and you love fantasy novels that can transport you while you’re reading them, I think you would love The Gilded Ones!