The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
• February 9, 2021 • Delacorte Press
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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.
I received this book for free from Random House for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
First sentence: “Today is the Ritual of Purity.”
In a patriarchal society where girls are judged by the blood that runs through them—where abuse, racism, and xenophobia runs rampant—Otera is a brutal world to live in. Deka knows that first hand. As someone who has never felt like she’s belonged in her village, Deka prays for red blood—the color of acceptance and purity. However, when the day comes when she turns sixteen, all the praying she did does not come into fruition; her blood runs gold—the color of impurity.
When Deka is given the choice to stay and be tortured and eventually killed OR leave to fight for the emperor with girls just like her, she chooses the option that will keep her alive. Deka becomes part of an elite team who’s mission is to wipe out Deathshrieks for the Emperor.
That’s when her greatest battle begins.
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