The Gilded Ones
I have written a bit on the folklore in The Gilded Ones, now it’s time for a review. So far, in the books I have read for my African Folklore project, this is my least favorite. I don’t hate it, but I do have some issues with it that mostly boil down to writing style.
This is the story of Deka, who overcomes great trauma – both physical and religious – to become a great warrior. She is one of the Gilded Ones, who’s blood runs gold instead of red, who is exploited by the Emperor of Otera to kill monstrous beasts. In short, she is the chosen one and the monsters aren’t who they appear to be.
Otera is the fictional land the represents what the world would be if Sierra Leone and Nigeria conquered rested of the world. While I have seen this book listed as Afrofuturism, this idea of Sierra Leone and Nigeria being the ruling party makes this Africanfuturist. I don’t want to split hairs here but this story is told from an African-centric view, not a western one. It relies on history and folklore to tell the story.
The first person perspective of Deka can be annoying. Her thought train is always the same. I realize much of it is processing her upbringing and religious guilt, but it’s still annoying. It’s the only thing she focuses on despite all these other things going on in her life. It’s always about how she is a demon, Omoyo (the god she was raised to believe in) this and Omoyo that, dwelling on Ionas, a boy she became somewhat obsessed with because he said she was pretty once. Everything and everyone is compared to her village and the villagers and how she was treated. It gets old quickly. Just when you think the story has moved on from it all, it gets drug up again.
There is also a lot of violence. Considering the story I don’t have a problem with this, but it is somewhat graphic, which in itself isn’t bad. The problem is, once again, the repetition of things. It dwells too long on things.
How the story ties itself up feels a little far fetched and I can’t help but feel that is the fault of Forna’s writing style. As I said, I didn’t hate the book. It was an interesting story. The problems I find with the story could very well be that I am older than the intended young adult audience.