Publisher: Usborne

Rating: 3/5 stars

Pages: 412

Category: YA, romance, fantasy, action

Trigger: fantasy violence, dismemberment

Hello Readers, welcome back to my blog.

I hope you are all doing well.


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.


Deka lost her mother 3 months ago and now it’s just her and her father. Her mother was a southerner with darker skin colour so she wasn’t really accepted into her husband’s village in the North. Deka hasn’t been accepted either because of her darker skin which she inherited from her mother, so she prays fervently to Oyomo (the god they serve) that she will be pure when her ritual of purity arrives. But her prayers are not answered, she is found impure and her father turns his back on her. She is sentenced to the Death Mandate and killed nine times in various ways but doesn’t remain dead, so she is given to a lady who transports her to the City of Emperors, where she joins an army of her kind (the gilded ones) in the Kingdom’s fight against the deathshiekers (monsters attacking the kingdom).

Deka and so many other girls (some, who have suffered similar things she has) are transported to a training camp, where they are to harness their skills alongside other honoured male recruits who will become Jatus (male warriors for the Emperor). Deka discovers that her mother was a shadow (a member of the Emperor’s mysterious assassins). Deka has a lot of questions about her origins and special powers which make her different from the other Alakis. Will she be able to survive her training and find out more about herself?

Fantastic, I loved every aspect of the story. Since it is about female oppression and liberation, there were some bits that annoyed me; which shows how well written the story is. I know that there is a second one coming out and I can’t think of what could be explored further in the second book to warrant its publication. It would have been better as a standalone but I look forward to it out of curiosity. I read somewhere that sometimes editors make new authors write their first stories as standalones because they are cautious about the uptake, there is no need committing to more than one book if the first book doesn’t sell well.

I gave 3 out of 5 stars because I liked the story well enough, the writing and the atmosphere created by the author but 2 hours after I finished reading I couldn’t think of what I enjoyed or why I enjoyed it; it was a forgettable experience which didn’t leave a deep impression on me. That is not to say that the story is not enjoyable but for some reason I didn’t feel a connection to it.

If you like this review and are interested in reading this book, you can purchase it using the links below:

Waterstones (UK) –

Book depository (Free worldwide shipping) –

Audible (audio books) –

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