The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, reviewed by Farrah (16)

In a deeply patriarchal society, where young girls undergo a ‘purity ceremony’, our main character Deka is forced to lead a different life than the predetermined path set out for her, when her blood runs gold with deemed impurity.

I massively enjoyed the experience of living inside Deka’s brain as she undergoes all of these shocking and exciting new experiences.

Farrah (16)

Snatched from her village, she is thrust into a world of battle and demons and is forced to deconstruct the indoctrinated misogyny housed in her brain, as she enters the Emperor’s army, as a special sector of the legions. Along the way she makes alliances and bands together with others, in the kinship of sisterhood, whilst also blossoming as an individual, piecing together her past and fighting for her future.

As this is a book told in first-person, I massively enjoyed the experience of living inside Deka’s brain as she undergoes all of these shocking and exciting new experiences. The overall message and themes contained within the pages, such as the importance of friendship and defiance, with the feminist overtone make for an impactful fantasy. The world building is unique, and the characters feel fleshed out and multi-faceted. As a debut novel, this is certainly commendable.

If you are a lover of the fantasy genre, or if you are interested in trying fantasy, I would definitely recommend ‘The Gilded Ones’. The writing style is eloquent, but easy to read, and you will find yourself gripped in no time. It’s sequel, ‘The Merciless Ones’ has recently been released, and therefore if upon finishing, you are eager for more, there is a whole new novel for you to devour. If however, you would prefer to read it as a stand-alone, then ‘The Gilded Ones’ will not disappoint. The ending ties the tale together neatly,  and you could leave the story there.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab, reviewed by Farrah

Going into this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The concept sounded fascinating, but the execution was even better.

‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ follows Kell and Lila within a world of multiple dimensions.  As a traveller, Kell is one of the only two people who can travel between the world’s London’s: Grey, Red and White.  Black London has long since been destroyed.  Kell and Lila have a chance meeting and from that moment their story unfolds, as they attempt to save Red London from the darker forces attempting to penetrate from Black London.  

I found the world immersive, the characters three-dimensional and the story action packed from the very first page.  I read it in two days and have already continued on with the trilogy.

Book Review by Farrah Hoskins.

I’ve set myself the challenge of reading seventy five books this year & already I’ve read forty five. I hope this gives you an insight into how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE reading.  I’ve been reading more YA fantasy novels through my @readbyfarrah BookTok & have become obsessed with the series written by Leigh Bardugo, Victoria Aveyard, Sarah J. Maas, Alice Oseman, Cassandra Clare & V.E. Schwab.  As a staunch Gryffindor, my all time favourite Harry Potter book is The Goblet of Fire, oh & The Deathly Hallows…I can’t choose between those two: you can’t have one without the other six!  I credit Harry Potter for igniting my love of fantasy novels, but I love to fall down the rabbit hole of classics & crime fiction.  My Grandpa introduced me to Sherlock Holmes at a young age & I’m a massive fan of who dunnit novels by Agatha Christie, Robin Stevens & Karen M. McManus’ ‘One Of Us Is Lying.’

My current favourite book is ‘The Song of Achilles’. I defy all my reluctant reading friends not to be crushed by Madeline Miller’s masterpiece.   My passion for Greek Mythology started with a beautifully illustrated Usborne children’s guide, which has certainly influenced my choice of GCSE Classics.  Moving forward, I hope to study it at A Level, & fingers crossed at university along with English Lit.  I’ve read Stephen Fry’s fantastic ‘Mythos,’ Natalie Haynes’ ‘A Thousand Ships’ & Mary Beard’s Ancient Rome book entitled ‘SPQR.’ Even though I tend to steer clear of horror stories I do actively seek strong female role models & stories with good representation from the lgbtq plus community & books by authors of colour. 

If you need to reach me, I’ll be in my room ‘manifesting’ the third Six of Crows book!