Okay, where do I even begin?! I received and ARC copy of this book and I instantly fell in love! Seriously, I want to be reading the second book in this series right now, but alas this book doesn’t even come out until 2021! Honestly, if you are looking for a book to add to you “most anticipated books of 2021” please add this one! Why, you ask? Well, first off the characters in this book are so diverse! If you have been following my blog you know that this is something that excites me! Secondly, you have a group of young women, destined for death, who become powerful warriors! Seriously, because of being different the tribes of this world were supposed to murder them, but I will get into that later. Lastly, the world creation done by Forna was…how do I say it? Chef’s Kiss!!! Seriously, I was pulled right in from page one and just did not want to put this book down.
So now begins my task of telling you about this book without giving you any spoilers what so ever. Let’s begin with the lead character, Deka. She is a sixteen year old young woman who is terrified that something would go wrong at the blood ceremony and she wouldn’t be allowed to become part of the village. You see, her family was already seen as an outsider for marrying someone with questionable lineage. So this blood ceremony was incredibly important to her. She just needed to bleed red and her and her father would finally be considered members of their village. Unfortunately, the blood ceremony did not go as planned and Deka’s life changed. She went from being on outsider, to being called a demon, to becoming an incredible warrior (known as alaki).
Namina was masterful in her creation of this world. You could feel the oppression the women and girls were forced to live under. They had to be subservient to men to the extent that they weren’t even allowed to run father than their male counterparts. There was actually an amazing part in the book where Deka realized that all of the girls were purposely running painfully slow to avoid shaming the boys and she called them out on it! One of my favorite lines in the book came from this scene…”are you girls, or are you demons?” This was a major plot point of this book. A female could either bow down to the men of the world or be strong, there was no middle ground. Let me just say, I loved reading about how these young women found their own voice and strength. It is such a fantastic message for YA readers. Seriously, these young girls go from being abused to being warriors, this was so freaking fantastic.
Namina was masterful in the way she covered so many topics including racism, sexism, and rape. Yes this was brought up as one of the horrors that these young women had to face. But these topics were faced in a way that it added to the story and not just as an side like in other books. This grounded the story in some reality and also showed just how low women were treated in this world. But there was also beauty to be seen once the girls were allowed to be who they were meant to be. This book was so good that I just could not put it down. This book gave it all to the reader!
Overall, this is a must read! You were given a diverse cast of character from all over their world and lgbt characters as well. You followed Deka and her friends as they trained to become warriors. You were along side them as they battled these creatures that killed tribes and captured children. And you were there along Deka as she found out who she truly was and what made her special even amongst alaki. So, were the alaki evil like the men in the book or were they something more? Well, guess you are going to have no choice but to read the book to find out! If you are looking for a fantastic YA novel with diverse characters and strong female characters you need to put this on your to be read list for 2021!