Today, it’s my stop on the book tour hosted by TBR & Beyond Tours for one of my most anticipated reads of 2022: The Merciless Ones by Namina Forna! After reading (and loving!) The Gilded Ones last year, I could not wait to get my hands on the latest installment in this lush world. Especially after what happened at the end of the first book!
Before I get into my post, however, let me take a moment to thank some people. First, thank you to the wonderful team at TBR & Beyond Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour. I was so excited when I got the email confirmation! Second, thank you to the publisher, via Netgalley, for providing me with a free e-ARC so that I could participate. It is, as always, very much appreciated. Rest assured that all opinions contained in my post are my own.
Also, I want to make sure y’all check out all the other incredible bloggers and bookstagrammers that have stops on this tour! There is a wide variety and, if you would like to follow along with the tour, you can find the schedule HERE.
Alright, now let’s get to my tour stop!
- Title: The Merciless Ones
- Author: Namina Forna
- Series: The Gilded Ones #2
- Publication date: May 31st, 2022
- Genre: Fantasy
- Age group: Young Adult
- Content/Trigger Warnings: For a list of potential content and trigger warnings, check out this book’s page on BookTriggerWarnings.com
Fans of The Gilded Ones and Children of Blood and Bone will love the second book in an epic fantasy series about a girl who is the key to saving the empire–or its greatest threat.
It’s been six months since Deka has freed the goddesses and discovered who she really is. There are now wars waging across the kingdom. Otereans now think jatu are traitors to the nation. Deka is called a monster.
But the real battle has only just begun and Deka must lead the charge. Deka is tasked with freeing the rest of the goddesses. Only as she begins to free them, she begins to see a strange symbol everywhere in places of worship and worn on armor. There’s something unnatural about that symbol; just looking at it makes Deka lose her senses. Even worse, it seems to repel her powers. She can’t command or communicate with the new deathshrieks. In fact, she can’t even understand them when they speak.
Deka knows freeing the goddesses is just the beginning. She can tell whatever dark force out is powerful and there is something sinister out there threatening the kingdom connected to that symbol–something merciless–that her army will need to stop before humanity crumbles. But Deka’s powers are only getting stronger…and her strongest weapon could be herself.
Content Warning: scenes of violence, including some graphic violence and description of sexual assault
Namina Forna is a young adult novelist based in Los Angeles, and the author of the upcoming epic fantasy YA novel The Gilded Ones. Originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, she moved to the US when she was nine and has been traveling back and forth ever since. Namina has an MFA in film and TV production from USC School of Cinematic Arts and a BA from Spelman College. She works as a screenwriter in LA and loves telling stories with fierce female leads.
Thank you to TBR & Beyond Tours, the publisher, and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions contained within are my own.
When I signed up to do this book tour, I offered to share 15 reactions I had while reading The Merciless Ones. I figured, if it affected me even half as much as The Gilded Ones, this would be no problem. I was most definitely right! Now let’s see if I can articulate my reactions into words that will make you want to read this book because I need y’all to read this book!
#1. “This is just as beautifully cinematic as the first book.”
Namina Forna has a way of writing that feels like you’re watching a particularly exciting action flick. This reads like a movie feels when you’re completely enraptured by what’s on screen!
#2. “Oh, Deka…” *in varying tones of voice*
Deka is such a beautifully complex character. There were moments when I had tears in my eyes because of the pain she was going through. There were moments I wanted to talk her out of the guilt spiral she seems to constantly find herself in. Book one of this series gave us a broken girl who is trying to do what is right and I appreciate the fact that she isn’t “magically fixed” because of what she accomplishes in The Gilded Ones.
#3. “The trauma is real in this series.”
This thought isn’t to say that other books don’t portray trauma “correctly” because there is no one correct way to experience and process trauma. It’s more that it felt especially raw and visceral the way that Namina Forna writes it. She doesn’t shy away from the messy parts of trying to work through something particularly painful and life-changing. We get to see it in all it’s gory details.
#4. “I feel like I’m having a panic attack!”
Speaking of which, Deka constantly has to deal with anxiety and panic attacks in this book. They are frequent and detailed, so that might be something to take into consideration when you think about picking up this book. The author does a fantastic job of portraying them, I think, so I could see them as being potentially triggering. Of course, I’ve never actually suffered a full blown panic attack, so please take what I’m saying with a grain of salt.
#5. “This writing is absolutely incredible.”
Most of my thoughts so far focus on how much Namina Forna’s writing has affected me. It completely sucks you into the story in a way that makes it easy to fly through the pages without realizing how much time has gone by. I found myself wrapped up in the world she has created once again. It felt like slipping into a familiar pair of shoes that I haven’t worn in awhile but still love.
#6. “I do not like Melanis… but she’s certainly interesting.”
There are a few new characters introduced in this book and they are just as nuanced and intriguing as our old cast of characters. Did I like them all? No. Were they all fascinating in their own ways? Definitely! I’m still partial to the original crew, but I always appreciate a sequel that can introduce new people into the story and make them just compelling as old favorites.
#7. “WTF is going on?!”
There are a lot of twists and turns in this story and I loved it! As soon as I thought I had something figured out, another component would be thrown into the mix that changed everything. I felt much like Deka does throughout the story, trying hard to catch up to what was going on. Far from being frustrating, I feel like it firmly rooted me in the story, it made me invested in figuring out the end goal. And it certainly made the ending that much more jaw-dropping.
#8. “Ixa is best boy ❤”
I love a good animal companion in a book and Ixa is becoming a firm favorite. He’s just so cute and strong and fierce and I would die for him 🥺
#9. “Keita’s alright too I guess.”
One thing about this sequel that just didn’t hit the same as the first was the romance. Keita was a good foil to Deka but the romance felt… flat? Like every once in awhile they would do something cuddly and cute to remind you “Hey, we’re in a relationship!” and it felt a little tacked on. Like an afterthought. I did enjoy how supportive Keita is of Deka as she’s going through everything, though. Perhaps it’s just that I was too invested in what was going on with the war. More fighting, less kissing!
#10. “There is a lot more action in this.”
Speaking of fighting, The Merciless Ones definitely steps it up when it comes to action! This makes sense as they are actively at war with the powers-that-be and I think the author did a fantastic job ramping it up. The action scenes were tense and fraught. Again, it felt like how I feel watching a particularly well-crafted fight scene in a movie. Intense and epic! Namina Forna really shines when it comes to making her readers worry for the safety of their favorites, haha.
#11. “Ohh, we have transgender characters???”
I honestly can’t remember if this was mentioned in the first book, but there are at least one, if not two, trans characters mentioned in this one. One is clearly stated as being transgender while the other is… a bit more ambiguous. Mostly because of the gods messing with their children. Still, it was nice to see that representation. Hopefully we’ll get even more in the last book of the trilogy!
#12. “Yes, give me all the representation!”
Beyond the transgender rep, there are also openly gay and lesbian characters. And not just one couple, either. There were quite a few, which I definitely appreciate in my fantasy, but especially in my young adult fantasy. There was also disability rep in one of the side characters who has a mobility aid. He isn’t in the story much, but I’m hoping he pops up again in the next book.
#13. “Well that seems… convenient.”
Though I overall thoroughly enjoyed this story, there were moments that had me thinking this a few times. Little bits of deus ex machina sprinkled into the tale. They didn’t detract from the story overall, but they did pull me out of it a teensy bit. Thankfully, it only happens once or twice.
#14. “Wow… I’m already done?”
As I mentioned above, I found myself completely wrapped up in the writing and story of The Merciless Ones. So much so that, when I reached the end, I was a bit surprised it was already over! I flew through this book and enjoyed almost every second of the experience. What a ride!
#15. “That is quite the ending!”
This author certainly knows how to end a story! She leaves you feeling satisfied and, at the same time, eager to get your hands on the last installment in this trilogy. I need to know what happens next and I just know it’s going to be just as amazing as the first two books.
There we have it. 15 thoughts I had while reading that I hope will make you want to read this incredible sequel as well!