I have been excited for The Gilded Ones for months. Like before the pandemic even started! With publishing changes it got pushed back in my schedule, but I read it in a day! Talk about a book that absolutely absorbed me! Keep reading this book review of The Gilded Ones to find out what I loved!
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: mentions of rape, torture
Talk about a book for all my “The Old Guard” fans here! The Gilded Ones is a powerful story about embracing our power. Steeped in an incredibly patriarchal and sexist world, Deka’s journey is immersed in a world that fears women. One that does what it can to instill a culture of fear, reporting, and punishment. I could write pages on how The Gilded Ones dismantles the sexism and patriarchal conditioning within the world. It’s one that is so well done, but also instills a sense of fear, terror, and rage.
At the same time, The Gilded Ones is a story about survival and strength. About what happens when we are treated like monsters, expected to live with fangs. What will we become? And what will we do to people, our neighbors, and our loved ones, when we deem them as demons. When we de-humanize them into Others. Will we speak up? Continue to wield the blade, or watch on in silence? The Gilded Ones is a multi-faceted debut that delivers a variety of emotions – simmering range and unabashed joy – as well as thoughtful introspection.
While The Gilded Ones is full of action, it’s also balanced by introspection and character growth. In order to survive, in order to live, they will have to break everything that’s been ingrained into them. It’s easy to love and accept us when we’re strong, when we’re useful. But as soon as we become too powerful to control, the chains come back out. When the heroes of our stories become the demons in our legends. I enjoyed every page of The Gilded Ones and cannot wait for the next one.