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The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna (ARC)

Hi, hey, hello! Welcome back to another review! Today, I’m featuring The Gilded Ones, a beautiful story inspired by West-African mythology featuring a cast of amazing women.

The banner for the tour, courtesy of Terminal Tours

I’m going to be doing my traditional Good, Bad, and Ugly for this review (how I’ve missed this format!) with closing remarks after! There are a few trigger warnings (described sexual abuse of character, killing of various characters, repeated torture and assault of character), so please take care of yourself and make sure you’re in the right headspace before diving in to this amazing read.

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.

Synopsis of book

The Good

Everything. Literally everything. The plot moves along just fast enough to be believable and interesting, but slow enough to make sure the reader is still on track with everything.

The characters are so fully fleshed out — I’d want to be friends with these girls. Britta’s accent and way of pronouncing words made me think of my own family with roots in the South…some letters are never pronounced, just implied. It’s like it’s own language to decode. Forna does a great job with incorporating this quirk into the character of Britta.

I also liked how we were almost an all-seeing person in the world of The Gilded Ones. We learned information at the same time Deka did. It was quite a smart move to put the reader in Deka’s perspective and keep us there. It really helped us to discover the secrets this world has hidden and genuinely be shocked.

The Bad/The Ugly

Honestly. Not much of anything. If I had one request it’s just that I want Book 2 (OH YES) right n o w!


The Gilded Ones was an amazing read, and quick too. I cannot express the joy seeing so many beautiful Black characters having their stories told. I can only wait with bated breath for more from Ms. Forna and her contemporaries.

Image courtesy of

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 loves telling stories with fierce female leads and works as a screenwriter in LA.

The Gilded Ones is Namina Forna’s debut book being released on February 9th from Delacorte Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Visit for more info on the book, and find Namina online on Twitter, Instagram, or her website to see what she’s up to!

I received an ebook review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my participation on this blog tour and an honest review. Receiving these materials in no way affected my review.

Published by stacialovestoread

I’m a firsttime blogger and a lifelong reader. Join my journey here, and on my bookstagram @stacialovestoread!

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