REVIEW: ‘The Gilded Ones’ depicts feminism and patriarchy in fantasy world


Graphic Tisya Singh

Assistant Online Editor Sahana Sivarajan writes that “The Gilded Ones” by Namina Ford is the perfect read for those who enjoy feminist novels based in alternate realities.

Sahana Sivarajan, Assistant Online Editor

Set in a fantasy world, The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna is a feminist book that delves into what it’s like as a woman living in a patriarchal society.

The start of the book describes a blood ceremony, the Ritual of Purity, that 16-year-old Deka is preparing for which will determine her future. She was cast out of the village because of her unnatural intuition. If her blood is red, she will become a member of her village. If it’s gold, she’ll be considered “impure.” This will lead to her being cast out, or possibly killed. 

However, the village is attacked by creatures called ‘death shrieks’ before the Ritual of Purity takes place. After a fight occurs where Deka is wounded, it is revealed that her blood unfortunately runs gold. Faced with the possibility of execution, Deka accepts an invitation from a strange woman to join an army of other “impure” girls like herself. Consequently, she leaves her village to head to the capitol, where they will battle death shrieks.

Deka is a brave teen who is fighting the patriarchy. In this world, women were “..created to be helpmeets to men, subservient to their desires and commands.” First- time author, Forna, isn’t shy when it comes to feminist commentary. The book talks about the fear of women’s power and the lengths of which a patriarchal society will go to to make sure a woman is put in her place. There are absurd rules and outright violence throughout the book that is downright shocking.

From the start, the book is engaging, but the readers are really drawn in at the midway point, as it sparks curiosity about the ending. The book is definitely worth the read. However, there were many plot twists at the end that, in my opinion, didn’t really make sense. 

There wasn’t much of a character development for the characters, except for some scenes in which they trained to fight the death shrieks. Nonetheless, some strengths of the text include great diction and a scrupulous building of a world. In addition, the fight scenes added an interesting way to draw in the reader.

Despite the intriguing content the book contains, the reader finds solace more often than shock or anger. Deka is a completely innocent girl who is filled with wonder as she tries to piece together her history and try to find her own place in the world. She finds a mentor, some friends, her lover, a jaw-dropping secret and, of course, herself at the end of the book. Overall, The Gilded Ones is a great read because of the interesting way Namina Forna describes the world in which Deka lives. If you love feminist books and reading about alternate worlds, this book is just for you!