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Review | The gilded ones-a story of redeeming feminism

WHY SHOULD YOU READ THE GILDED ONES?

Namina Forna’s the gilded one is a story about brutal survival, unforgivable quisling and redeeming feminism.

It would be impossible to say in one breath what the gilded one is to me. But I would try. Set in Otera, the first of its series. We see coming of age girls who are born a crime. Their very existence, a taboo. Namina however don’t leave it at this cliche surface. She humanizes her tale, she humanizes monsters, she humanizes deity in ways that show that at the end we are all the same.Deka, our main character is like most of us, powerful, destined but ignorant. And when she is no longer ignorant, she tries to run away from who she is, tries to become someone else. Will it be too late before to make peace with her identity?

There is a certain sense of comradeship that Namina builds among all the ladies that bleeds gold. They didn’t build it easily but when it mattered. The fear and the anxiety of whether it would last till the end held us. Will they betray themselves to the jali? To allow them keep being domineering or will they stand by each other even through death? The plot thickens masterfully, and the part that remains with me the most is when Belcalis reveal how people of their nature are treated, ‘Once I stopped being hurt, being violated, they faded.” She smiles bitterly. “And that’s the worst part. The physical body – it heals. The scars fade. But the memories are for ever. Even when you forget, they remain inside, taunting you, resurfacing when you least expect.”‘ This quietly reminded me that it is best never to be a thorn to anyone. Because once we commit the act, we can never undo it. Never.For a fantasy genre, the gilded one theme is far from cliche, sometimes even treading the part of diversity and newness.

DO YOU WANT TO READ FROM THE STABLES OF EKWEZI?

But it would be wrong to talk about what Namina has written without taking about why she wrote it. The gilded ones examines patriarchy. How does it form? What supports it? How do women survive under it? And what about men or people who don’t fall into the binary? Who thrives and who doesn’t? It does all this in an unashamedly objective manner. Adeptly using characters to drive the plot. Although as common in most female fantasy fiction, there is the tendency that romance seems just like a reprieve not a momentum. Keila and Deka fail in giving a more physical expression of their love, time and time again. But I am only sated when he took the ultimate decision of volunteering to kill Deka. Wishing that it is the hands of a loved one she dies not a stranger.I am actively expecting the next in the series and hoping with all that have, that the damage hasn’t gone too far.

AWARDS WON BY THE GILDED ONES

Cooperative Children’s Book Center ChoicesSELECTION 2022RELATED ARTICLES

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY TEEN VOGUE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR OF THE GILDED ONES

Namina Forna is a young adult novelist based in Los Angeles, and the author of the New York Times bestselling epic fantasy YA novel The Gilded Ones. Originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, she moved to the US when she was nine and has been traveling back and forth ever since. Namina loves telling stories with fierce female leads and works as a screenwriter in LA.

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