ARC Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for letting me read the Gilded Ones early! I was one of those super lucky people who requested my e-ARC on NetGalley a few weeks before the original release date for this book, so I was approved before the book was removed from the catalogue and I’m so happy I was! It was amazing! Like man y’all, if this isn’t on your TBR, make sure you add it now. 

The Gilded Ones 5/5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

At the beginning, this book gave me so many Handmaid’s Tale and the Grace Year vibes in the oppression of the young girls in Deka’s village, but as soon as the day of the ceremony comes and she has gold blood, everything changes and this book becomes so different from anything I’ve ever read. I thought Deka was a great main character, and even though this book does have the “chosen one” trope to it, it doesn’t do it in an annoying way- it was so well done and it made me really want to keep reading (like I had to force myself to stop reading to go to bed multiple times). I really enjoyed all of the training the alaki got and everything about the magic system was so cool/interesting- I cannot wait to read book two when it comes out! Like I said earlier, y’all HAVE to pick this book up!

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