Reviews tagging Animal death

The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna

12 reviews

betweentheshelves's review

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adventurous medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

There is so much to love about this book! The world felt fresh to me, even if some of the tropes are repeats from other YA fantasies. Deka's voice was strong and really helped to carry the story. Even if the ending was slightly predictable for me, I didn't mind. The plot and the characters really helped to balance that out.

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plumpaperbacks's review

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adventurous challenging emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

I went into The Gilded Ones expecting a fun fantasy story, and was surprised not only by its heavier themes but also by just how good it was from the very beginning.

This is one of the most unique, immersive stories I’ve read in some time. Forna created a brilliantly intricate world that, despite a few basic similarities to other fictional worlds, is overall unlike any I’ve read about before. The mythology is so vivid it nearly seems real, the creatures and setting so impressively creative, yet none of it is confusing or difficult to understand.

Forna outdid herself writing a complex, diverse and lovable cast of characters. Deka is a protagonist I rooted for as soon as I met her, and it took very little time for me to be equally charmed by her friends, Britta, Belcalis, and Adwapa. These girls have endured so many hardships and gotten stronger because of them, without losing their vulnerability or the best parts of their personalities. Not only were they all great on their own, but their friendship was phenomenal and so heartwarming. One of the best girl squads I’ve ever read about, undeniably.

I would say the romance was one of the best parts, but honestly, every part of this book could be described the same way. The romance is subtle until the final third of the book, when it becomes clear that Deka and Keita have feelings for each other that go beyond friendship. Their slow-burn romance is memorable because it’s written differently than those in so many other books. It’s focused not on passion and lust but a deep connection between two people, a tender, unwavering affection. I love them so much, more than I can express.

Although the ending was emotional in numerous ways, it wasn’t a cliffhanger, and I appreciate that very much. Even without one, I’m extremely eager for the second book. I’ll be eagerly awaiting any scrap of news I can find.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s spectacular in every aspect, and the fact that it’s Forna’s debut novel is mind-blowing. I can definitely see the Deathless trilogy becoming an all-time favorite, since the first book is already there. Highly, highly recommended for those who can handle the content.

Representation
  • Black protagonist
  • side characters of color (includes Black rep)
  • sapphic side characters
  • minor sapphic side romance (f/f)

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justabookworm's review

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adventurous dark emotional tense
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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nullandvoidlibrary's review

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adventurous dark medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.0


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jem_andtonic's review against another edition

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adventurous dark inspiring tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0


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nerdybirdy101's review

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challenging emotional medium-paced
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.5

*Thanks to NetGalley for the e-ARC.*
This book was fabulous! The writing and the symbolism were done wonderfully! The author is clearly talented and understands how to write a compelling story. If you like fantasy and strong women leads, then you will enjoy this book. My only complaint and why this book received 4.5 out of 5 stars from me is that it seemed like the author rushed some of the dramatic scenes at the end. The ending of this book could have been the final ending of the story and while I did not want a cliffhanger ending, the book had more happily ever after ending than we have problems we need to deal with in the rest of the series. I think I would have rather the action that happened at the end of the book be extended and have the ending be more mysterious where the readers are dying to pick up the next book. I definitely want to continue on with this series, but I am not obsessing over the next book as much as I would have been if the ending would have been a little more open-ended. 
So, you should read this book if you like fantasy and feminism! The author is a master at writing and weaving together the plot. There are many content warnings and I suggest you research all your triggers to ensure that you are able to read this. Content warnings include child abuse, sexual abuse, misogyny, and more. 


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charlottesomewhere's review

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adventurous dark hopeful tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No
I'm absolutely blown away by this brutal but stunning debut. I loved the world, the premise, the characters, the bond between the alaki, the way Deka's story unfolded. This is a definite new favourite. 

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carolinewithane's review

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adventurous dark emotional funny hopeful inspiring reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

the first chapter had me thinking: "oh no. another stock YA fantasy."

i'm so glad i kept reading.

while the pacing was clumsy (there are many time jumps that i wish had been explored more) and the romance was a big no from me (cheesy and undeveloped), the whole message is incredible. i would die for the bloodsisters. this is a very intersectional feminist fantasy, which the world definitely needs, and the worldbuilding was very creative.

if you were considering picking this one up, do!

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becandbooks's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional inspiring reflective tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

Find more at becandbooks.com!

The Gilded Ones was an absolutely fantastic, gripping and gut-wrenching fantasy story, as well as an astounding YA debut. I recommend this book to every fantasy reader out there - in particular, for readers looking for a book that is both fierce and powerful.

This book is stunning from the very beginning, as the reader is thrust into a gorgeous world of cultures and rituals. Deka is presented to her village as 'impure', by bleeding gold at the blood ceremony, which very quickly throws her life into a world of chaos and pain.

Forna does not hold back on the graphic nature of what her characters go through, throughout the book. Please heed the trigger warnings on this one. But rather than gore and violence for the sake of a dark and wartorn story, every moment is used to illustrate the influence of power, rituals, class and misogyny. This overarching narrative is what leads The Gilded Ones to be an incredibly striking story.

The characters themselves, are masterfully developed. Whether you are looking at the main character, Deka, or the side characters readers will develop a strong sense of understanding of the complexities and personalities of each person. The trauma of the characters is strongly and respectfully explored throughout the book, accurately playing a role in the choices and path for each character.

Despite all the incredible things that Forna pulls together, perhaps the highlight for me was the worldbuilding. It has been a long time since I picked up a YA fantasy that felt so truly unique and wholly engaging. From the lore of Gods and Demons that plays a dynamic role in the rituals of villages and underlies the treatment of those deemed impure, to the gorgeous creatures that are as unique and reverent as the regions they originate from.

This is a truly astounding book and one that I highly recommend. I can't wait to see where Forna takes the rest of the series.

Thank you to HarperCollins Publishing Australia for providing me with a copy of this book! This does not impact my opinions, whatsoever. 

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roguebelle's review

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dark fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.75

I could heartily recommend this book to someone looking to get into YA fantasy, particularly if that reader is from a marginalized community and wanted to see herself as the protagonist in such a story. I would have to do so with the suggestion that she look carefully at the story's content warnings, however, as there is a lot of graphic gore and less-graphic sexual violence embedded in the narrative.

For frequent readers of YA fantasy, the general patterns and tropes will be apparent from "go". A sixteen year old girl faces a Ritual (yes, capitalized) dictated by her patriarchal and puritanical society. Things go Terribly Wrong because she is Different, and in the rest of the story, she must Embrace Her Destiny (capitalizations mine, here). Standard fare, but it's certainly nice to see more diversity applied to those tropes.

The religious themes are heavy-handed with little room for nuance, but in a way that's fairly typical for the genre. The story's "big twist" is easy to see coming a mile away for any genre-savvy reader, and getting to that point is a bit of a bumpy ride. The narrative sort of careens between training montages and infodumps, without giving us a lot of time to appreciate the characters. We're often informed about personalities, but we get less opportunity to see them on display.

The predictable YA romance is predictable and rather boring. There was absolutely a more interesting choice, and if I continue with this series, it would mostly be to see if the author pulls a bait-and-switch on the expected direction and makes the bolder choice later on.
SpoilerI mean, seriously, pair Deka up with Britta and suddenly this whole story is a lot more interesting.

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