The Gilded Ones (Deathless #1)

Namina Forna. Delacorte, $18.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-9848-4869-7
All 16-year-old girls in Otera must endure the Ritual of Purity. Those who bleed red when cut are judged fit for marriage and motherhood; those who bleed gold are deemed impure and banished. Sturdy brown-skinned Deka is an outcast in Irfut, where villagers skew thin and blond, and she craves the rite’s validation. When the ceremony is interrupted by deathshrieks—vicious monsters with agonizing screams—Deka miraculously repels the creatures, only to be dubbed a demon. Multiple attempted executions reveal that Deka is both gold-blooded and seemingly unkillable. After two months of torture, a mysterious woman, White Hands, extends an invitation: come to the capital, where the emperor is assembling an army of quasi-immortal “alaki” like Deka to combat deathshrieks. Deka enlists, relieved to find a place where she might finally belong, but the more she learns about deathshrieks and alaki, the more she questions Otera’s patriarchal tenets and the emperor’s true intentions. Formidable heroines and a thoughtful feminist myth-ology distinguish debut author Forna’s West Africa–inspired fantasy trilogy launch. Abundant action drives the pace, while a nuanced plot advocates social change by illustrating the myriad ways in which society cages and commodifies women. Ages 12–up. Agent: Alice Sutherland-Hawes, Madeleine Milburn. (May)
Reviewed on : 04/02/2020
Release date: 05/26/2020
Genre: Children's
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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