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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.
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.
I have had the ARC of this book since last year. I started and stopped the book many times. It was not the fault of the book. I just couldn’t read anything last year, pandemic brain. I finally completed the book in the first week of February and I have never felt so accomplished in reading a book before.
I enjoyed the book immensely. It dealt with very strong themes of misogyny, religious fervor, feminism, and patriarchy. I enjoy reading a black-dominated YA fantasy novel.
Deka is from a small village in the province of Otera that is uber-religious and has strong abusive patriarchy. When girls reach the age of 15 or 16, they must participate in the purity ritual checking to see if the girls’ blood is pure. If the girl’s blood runs red, they are pure. If their blood runs gold, they are “impure” and therefore sentenced to death.
After being tortured and killed over and over again (those with gold blood can heal themselves), she is given the “choice“ to continue this torment or fight for the empire.
With all the heavy subject matter intertwined in the book, Forna does an excellent job telling a magical and uplifting story.
Overall, this was a fantastic debut and story about Black Girl Power!
Thank you to Netgalley for providing an advance reader copy. This is part of my Netgalley challenge. Please check it out here. This did not influence my review. My own opinions.
Have you read the book? Let me know in the comments below.
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