Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to.

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Today’s pick is a West African-inspired fantasy and the first in a series.

Book cover of The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

This book is an immersive fantasy with a lot of violence that I just couldn’t put down. It’s told in the first person by Deka, a 16 year old girl who lost her mother to a disease three months prior to the beginning of this book. She lives in a small village with her father. It’s important to note that Deka’s mother was not from the village and had deep brown skin. Deka too, has brown skin while her father has light skin, blond hair, and gray eyes and because of this, the town hasn’t been incredibly kind to Deka. The town is also very religious, pulling their rules and morality from a book called the Infinite Wisdoms and a god they refer to as the Infinite Father, Oyomo. Surprising no one, the vibe is ultra-patriarchal and misogynistic.

The book begins on the day of the Ritual of Purity. All 16 year old girls in the village need to go through the Ritual of Purity. Once a girl is proven pure, she is considered a full citizen of the village and is eligible to marry and have a family of her own. The Ritual of Purity itself involves a priest non-fatally slicing each girl’s skin with a blade. If her blood runs red, she is considered pure and passes the ritual; however, if her blood runs gold, that is an entirely different thing altogether.

Before it is her turn in the temple, Deka feels a few moments of foreboding before the village is attacked by large murderous beasts that could kill a person with a single scream. A huge bloody fight ensues and in a moment of terror and desperation, Deka yells for the monsters to stop and they do, before leaving entirely. The people of the town are freaked out by this, her own father calls her a demon, and someone tries to run her through with a sword. She does not bleed red and they lock her up.

After weeks of torture, a foreign woman shows up to offer Deka a choice: to either finally die, or to join the Emperor’s elite force of fighters he is creating. This woman has all kinds of information about what Deka is and she would be taking Deka to a combat school where she would meet other girls like herself. At the end of her military service, she would gain purity.

This was such an exciting read that kept me on my toes and definitely caught me by surprise more than once.

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That’s it for now, book-lovers!


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