Trigger Warnings: Racism, xenophobia, misogyny, inequality, abuse, trauma, rape
Deka has been anticipating the blood ceremony her whole life - she prays she will bleed red blood to prove once and for all to her village she is pure and that she belongs. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity, and Deka knows she will face consequences worse than death.
But, a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and accept her fate, or leave to fight in army made of girls just like her. Deka goes with the woman and meets other alaki, the girls who are like Deka. Alaki are near immortals with rare gifts - and they're the only ones who can stop the Deathshrieks, monsters who kill villagers.
Through the journey to the capital, Deka trains for the biggest battle of her life alongside people she calls her bloodsisters. There are secrets everywhere and no one is quite what they seem, including Deka herself.
I have been wanting to read this book for ages... the cover alone caught my attention and I just knew I would love it. I totally judged a book by it's cover, but this is one I could just tell I would love. I was right.
This is a super empowering YA novel that offers a large diverse cast of female characters. The main character is black and there are many black, Asian, and brown major and minor characters. All the characters were flushed out and had depth to them that made me curious to know more about them. Britta was one of my favorites, her loyalty to Deka and her humor always made me smile. Even characters I wasn't too fond of still had moments - like when the villagers were calling the alaki horrible names and saying how they don't want them here and Captain Kelechi was like, "Well then, who wants to take their place? No one? Then be quiet!".
There were only two things I had a bit of a trouble with. One was that the romance part of the novel fell a little flat for me. I felt like Deka had other worries and concerns that we focused on more... it wasn't that I didn't want or like them together, there were just more interesting things happening than that. The other part was a bit of the pacing. There would be some months that we fast forwarded through that would only be briefly mentioned by Deka. It was mostly during training and I completely understood there wasn't anything crazy going on, but I wouldn't have minded a few more details here and there.
The ending was kind of crazy and I honestly wasn't expecting it, especially since it's the first book of the series. It makes me super excited to see what the next book is going to be about though!
Overall, I loved this novel. The characters and their development were well thought out and detailed, the plot was engrossing and amazing, and the writing was phenomenal. Namina Forna put a lot of work into this novel and it shows, what an excellent author she is. I would recommend this series to fans of Children of Blood and Bone, Black Panther, and The Good Luck Girls.
This book was fascinating! It was honestly the best book I've read in a while. The world building is deep and immersive. I kind of knew where the story was headed, but I did not really guess the ending. I appreciated the honest look at trauma- it's causes, responses to it, etc. Personally, I wasn't a huge fan of the romance aspect, but I rarely am. I found it a little distracting/unnecessary, but maybe that will not stay the case in the next book. I am definitely eager to keep reading and will be watching for the next book to come out.