Book Review – The Gilded Ones (Deathless #1) by Namina Forna

First published, 4th February 2021
(I know, right?)

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The story follows Deka, a teenage girl who has grown up in fearful anticipation of a bloodletting ceremony which will take place at the time of her maturity and will dictate whether or not she is pure. If her blood runs red, she will be allowed to continue as a member of her village, she’ll be able to marry and have a family if she wants, and she’ll finally know that she belongs.

But when the fateful day arrives, Deka’s blood runs gold – the colour of impurity – and every person in her life turns against her. The new constant companion in her life is pain; there is value in her blood. Besides which, the alaki (those with gold blood) can die multiple times, in various ways, none of which need to be pleasant and this provides an outlet for the frustrations of the village elders.

Thus, when a mysterious woman appears and offers Deka an escape from those who torture her, she does what anyone else would do and faces unknown risks to avoid the pain and betrayal of the now. But what dangers will Deka face? And is she really ready to face her true self?

I tend to think of Young Adult literature as being relentlessly teenaged, so during the various scenes of disembowelling and dismemberment, I wondered how a teen reader might react. (I’m at that age now, my point of view has shifted without my noticing.) But then, I thought of myself as a teenager: I would have loved this story just as much then as I do now.

The imagery is incredible. I could see every scene. The characters are remarkably well-drawn, the writing is taut and tense, the story is breathtaking. I love this book.

It’s on pre-order right now. Go. Read. Love.

If you’re an adult who isn’t sure whether or not this is the right book for the young person in your life – get yourself a copy. You won’t look like a grown person reading a kids’ book. This is much more than that.