Reviews tagging Death of parent

The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna

45 reviews

destdest's review

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adventurous emotional mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

I think it was interesting for a story to play with the constructs of purity in a fantasy world. As usual, only girls’ purity is called into question and the "purest" girls are the most covered with mask adorned with gold or cheaper metals. We see Deka run herself ragged trying to meet her society's standards. She tries to be as devout as she can. 
 
Unfortunately, and understandably, Deka felt like such a sad sack the entire time. She's tortured in brutal ways and abandoned. I wasn't aware that this was a multiracial (why are there so many blonde and blue-eyed ppl? At least make it interesting, blonde and red-eyed?) fantasy world, so I was surprised at Deka being basically a magical biracial girl. On top of the impurity bs, she's isolated from her mom's side of the family and further alienated. With that being said, I fully understand that Deka’s dejectedness is a purposeful progression. 
 
The storytelling felt very slow-moving, and some readers may drop before they see Deka come to terms with herself. But my heart was gladdened once Deka did. I didn’t care about any of side characters, the allies Deka makes, though White Hands immediately piqued my interest. The conversations between Deka and Britta just never hit for me. Very ‘we’re friends because we sit next to each other in class’ vibes. I was indifferent to Keita. But I enjoyed the lady army, the commanders and the soldiers were ruthless.
Spoiler the final fight scene felt so technical. The emperor was acting so hammy.
 
 
Because I wasn’t endeared to any of the character, the reading experience was lackluster. I wonder if the author’s screenwriting experience played a part in the execution. Still, creating a fantasy story is no joke! 


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layne_and_literature_'s review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional inspiring sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5


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anythingforourmoony's review

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adventurous dark emotional tense

4.75


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beckycarter97's review

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adventurous 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? Yes

5.0


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delaventura's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional mysterious sad 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? No

4.25


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ananko's review

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adventurous dark emotional hopeful inspiring mysterious reflective sad 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? Yes

5.0


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allyjshand's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional inspiring mysterious 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? No

4.25

The young adult novel I needed growing up. Forna creates a fantasy world which is, in some ways, not too different from our own. Through the eyes of the protagonist, Deka, we explore a patriarchy which abuses and controls women, scared of their powers. Forna also ties in issues such as  racism, homophobia and xenophobia within this incredible debut novel. Thus, whilst it is darker than I expected for a YA novel, this only makes The Gilded Ones a more powerful read.

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xmaiax's review

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adventurous hopeful inspiring mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.0


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travelthrupages's review

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adventurous emotional inspiring reflective 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? Yes

4.0


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llamareads's review

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adventurous emotional inspiring 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? Yes

5.0

I will be 100% honest – I picked up this book solely based on that cover, and I have zero regrets. This is a hard-hitting and fiery young adult fantasy about overcoming the patriarchy.

In Otera, it’s accepted that women are subservient to men, and anyone – or anything – that goes against that is against the natural order. At fifteen, girls go through a bloodletting ceremony to prove their purity. Girls who bleed red are now considered women, free to find husbands and have families, while those who bleed gold are executed as alaki, demons. These alaki are near immortals descended from the Gilded Ones, four female demons who were subjugated by Oyomo, the rightful (male) god. During an attack by deathshrieks – horrible creatures whose screams cause impairment and even death – Deka is cut and bleeds gold, so she is imprisoned and repeatedly tortured to near-death, until a mysterious woman offers her a choice: stay there and hopefully eventually die, or join a new army of alaki, where faithful service will leave Deka cleansed of her impurities. Thrust into an unforgiving training regimen with other young girls, Deka must learn to survive. But when it becomes clear that Deka is a monster even among monsters, can even the other alaki accept her?

“The truth is, girls have to wear smiling masks, contort themselves into all kind of knots to please others, and then, when deathshrieks come, girls die. They die.” I glance from one blood sister to the other. “The way I see it, we all have a choice right now. Are we girls, or are we demons? Are we going to die, or are we going to survive?”


Deka starts the book as very young and innocent, completely buying in to the religious precepts she’s been taught – even if it means believing that she’s a monster and unworthy of salvation. The only thing that keeps her going is the hope that if she can survive twenty years of service, she’ll be judged pure. But once she meets the other alaki – once she realizes exactly how strong she is – she finally understands that she and every other woman in Otera have been caged and forced to be lesser for their entire lives. Even at the beginning of the book, though, when she’s terrified and hurting, she’s brave and unwilling to give up, and those are the qualities that really endeared her to me.

I loved the found family that Deka finds within the ranks of the alaki, especially her friendship with Britta. All of her bloodsisters have individual stories and motivations, but Britta and Belcalis were the two most fleshed-out and the two closest to Deka. They’re also opposites: Britta’s warm and trusting from the beginning, while Belcalis is prickly and defiant. White Hands, Deka’s initial savior and then sometimes-mentor, was another very interesting character, though more because of how manipulative and secretive she was. I also adored Ixa, Deka’s, uh, “kitten.” The male counterparts, the recruits, were less fleshed out, except for Deka’s love interest. Strangely enough, considering I usually read 90% romance, I didn’t care for the romance here. It felt unnecessary and a bit distracting from the rest of Deka’s journey.

“The physical body—it heals. The scars fade. But the memories are forever. Even when you forget, they remain inside, taunting you, resurfacing when you least expect.”


There’s a lot of tragedy in the book, most stemming from the ways women are subjugated by men and the ways they’re taught to subjugate themselves. And even beyond the blatant misogyny and racism, there’s also violent depictions of training and battles. I didn’t find any of it gratuitous, however, as the events have shaped each character and they each work through their trauma in their own way. The plotting was fast paced, though there’s quite a few time skips during the training, but it definitely kept me turning the pages. There were some aspects of the twist at the end that had me raising my eyebrows, but compared to the rest of the book, it was very minor.

Overall, I absolutely adored this book and I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the series. I highly recommend this to any fan of YA fantasy!

I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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