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Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Verdict: eh… underwhelming

Recommended: not really

If you read the blurb and are REALLY into it, give it a go. If you’re interested but not ravenous, probably don’t bother. Stay away if you want the dark moments to make you shiver, and stay away if you want characters who feel like people. Give it a shot if what you want is to learn about the world they live in.


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.


Ehh. I mean, it wasn’t bad. But it just never really sucked me in. I read the story with a bit of detachment the whole way. The ending picked it up a bit, but I probably won’t continue the series. Honestly it doesn’t feel like I need to. The end had a few interesting revelations, but ultimately it didn’t finish on a concrete “WHAT NOW” kind of moment. It didn’t keep me hooked and desperate for the next one.

Besides that, for a book that has so much trauma and memories of abuse, rape, repeated drowning, and straight up dismemberment…. it felt really light. None of that really hit home and felt as dark and real as it was supposed to. I guess it comes down to being told about the feelings, rather than being made to empathize and feel them myself. This should have had some serious shudders, but they never really came for me.

I didn’t think much of our MC Deka, either. Not that I disliked her, but I just felt like she didn’t have much personality. There wasn’t nuance and turmoil and flaws and triumphs. Honestly I liked Britta the best, but come on, who wouldn’t love that badass sweetie pie? Everything just felt flat and undeveloped.

I’m overwhelmingly underwhelmed. My whole response is a kind of neutral shrug. If someone asked me if they should read it, I would say if you’re really interested from the blurb go ahead, but if you’re on the fence, pick it up when you have nothing else to read, or just don’t bother.



Reader, traveler, photographer, and always looking to learn!

4 thoughts on “Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

  1. This is literally the first time I have seen a bad review for this book! I bought it recently but haven’t read it yet and am not sure when I will. I did think it looked really good though! Sorry to hear it didn’t work for you and hopefully your next read will be better!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, I surprised by how lukewarm I was on it too haha. I guess there’s always one 😅 probably a safe bet you’ll love it like most ☺️ and thanks haha I did get a reco for a book I devoured in two days and it was so good! A horror, oddly enough


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