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The Gilded Ones

The Gilded Ones

Namina Forna
Usborne Publishing Ltd
ISBN: 9781474959575

The Gilded Ones is an amazing debut novel by Namina Forna. I was fortunate to receive a limited-edition book proof from Usborne and it had a stunning golden cover!

This fantasy fiction is set in Otera, an ancient patriarchal empire. Women are forced to wear masks in public, they cannot go anywhere unaccompanied, and they are destined to be subservient wives if found pure. All girls (and you will note that it is only girls) must undergo 'The Ritual of Purity' at the age of 16 years. It is an offence to bleed beforehand. Golden blood is a sign that they are an Alaki and impure. Alaki are thought to be demons, each has only one way that she can die, and the Temple priests will do whatever it takes to find their final death.

Namina Forna has created a fantasy world that is VERY readable with a relatable heroine who fights for what she believes is right. This book is full of action and adventure with just a tiny sprinkling of romance thrown in. A tale where 16-year-old Deka is shocked to discover that she has golden blood and strives to find out who she is and where she came from. She is exceptionally talented, even amongst the Alaki, and to her surprise finds that she can command Deathshrieks; the tall, pale monsters that have terrorised her village, attacking and slaughtering the people there after paralysing their central nervous systems with their voices. Deka is in a fight to survive. She wishes to redeem herself and become pure...

I loved that the author explored a little of the back stories of some of the Alaki friends that Deka allies herself with. These snippets of personal history helped to explain some of the facets to their personality. A little empathy is a wonderful thing in any world!

This is a real page turner with plenty of surprises, and a book that raises deeper issues of feminism and patriarchy. It is set in an ancient West African-inspired world. It is the first of a series and I cannot wait to read the next instalment.

Contains scenes of violence. Rape is mentioned but not in detail.

416 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviwed by Clair Bossons, school librarian


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