INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY TEEN VOGUE
"A dark feminist tale spun with blood and gold. Must read!" –Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles
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.
The start of a bold and immersive fantasy series for fans of Children of Blood and Bone and Black Panther.
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.
Great Start to the series!