The story is about a patriarchal society and a girl who just wants to everyone to stop being murdered. Not kidding, she keeps being killed. If you don’t want a book with graphic violence and trauma you may want to sigh at the pretty cover and move along. There are a lot of trigger warnings in this book, but it is necessary to read, in my opinion.
The cover of the book is beautiful, and so is the story itself. Depth, growth, and female warriors in abundance. I highly enjoyed it and will be keeping this one to reread.
Deka is 16 years old and awaiting a Purity Ritual – all girls must complete their Purity Ritual to make sure they are pure of heart, body and blood. If a young girl doesn’t bleed red, she is impure and gets punished by the Elders and priests. After an incident at her Purity Ritual, Deka’s blood is revealed to be gold, YES GOLD! identifying her as a demon and unclean. Deka, who always tries to be a perfect and submissive woman, is devastated. And she becomes the subject of torture before being saved by an unknown benefactor who brings her to be trained as an Alaki – or a Demon Warrior. But things aren’t as they seem in Otera and the more Deka trains, the more she changes, while learning about Otera’s horrific past.
You should definitely read this book for the amazing womanliness – young girls who are strong and fast being trained by Karmoko’s who are literally the best. I especially loved Thandiwe and Karmoko Huon. I want to see this turned into a movie so I can fan cast it. There are significant themes of the impacts of patriarchy and extreme misogyny which can be hard to read but feel extremely realistic. I also loved that Forna created a world that is complete fantasy – sure there are similarities to some countries and cultures but her worldbuilding is fabulous. There are a few twists and surprises, most of which I guessed, but that didn’t change my love of this story. I can’t wait for the sequel (and the cover!) and congratulate Forna on a wonderful debut.