Blog Tour Review: The Merciless Ones, Namina Forna

The Merciless Ones (The Gilded Ones #2)
Author Namina Forna
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publishing Date: May 31, 2022

A Black girl dressed in her fighting gear faces outward from the cover. She is holding a golden sword that covers the right side of her face. Her outfit is gold and green, with blue bands at her neck.
About the Book

Fans of The Gilded Ones and Children of Blood and Bone will love the second book in an epic fantasy series about a girl who is the key to saving the empire–or its greatest threat.

It’s been six months since Deka has freed the goddesses and discovered who she really is. There are now wars waging across the kingdom. Otereans now think jatu are traitors to the nation. Deka is called a monster.

But the real battle has only just begun and Deka must lead the charge. Deka is tasked with freeing the rest of the goddesses. Only as she begins to free them, she begins to see a strange symbol everywhere in places of worship and worn on armor. There’s something unnatural about that symbol; just looking at it makes Deka lose her senses. Even worse, it seems to repel her powers. She can’t command or communicate with the new deathshrieks. In fact, she can’t even understand them when they speak.

Deka knows freeing the goddesses is just the beginning. She can tell whatever dark force out is powerful and there is something sinister out there threatening the kingdom connected to that symbol–something merciless–that her army will need to stop before humanity crumbles. But Deka’s powers are only getting stronger…and her strongest weapon could be herself.

Content Warning: scenes of violence, including some graphic violence and description of sexual assault

Book Links

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About the Author

Namina Forna is a young adult novelist based in Los Angeles, and the author of the upcoming epic fantasy YA novel The Gilded Ones. Originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, she moved to the US when she was nine and has been traveling back and forth ever since. Namina has an MFA in film and TV production from USC School of Cinematic Arts and a BA from Spelman College. She works as a screenwriter in LA and loves telling stories with fierce female leads.

Author Links

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My Thoughts

Book two brings us more adventure, revelations, and a lot of secrets. Deka’s tribe has grown closer; they work well together, as they’ve been at it for a year now. Lyrically written, we follow the cast as they work to bring the mothers fully back. But along the way, Deka is learning more about herself and what she can do.

I have a few criticisms of this one. Deka’s character hasn’t really seen much growth. She’s still impulsive, and that impulsivity is not only selfish at times, but it puts others in danger. Forna is a fan of putting off revealing things by Deka covering things up, or by wanting to discuss things later or revisiting a thought. It was fine in the first book, but it happens a lot in book 2. I feel it isn’t necessary, and it’s another example of Deka not experiencing much growth.

However, as we’re nearing the end of the book, we finally see some character growth. Deka starts to rely on her team and trusts them to do the tough stuff. It came in at the last minute, but it’s good to see and gives me hope for the next book.

The land is so lushly descriptive that I felt like I saw things alongside Deka. If I had to guess, I would say that Deka has PTSD. She has been through so much, and it’s obvious she’s still playing out a lot of her past today. But that might not be a thing in this world, but it’s something I felt while reading time and again.

I was tickled with the character Gazal because not only is Gazal a badass, but I imagine the author knows of Ghazal and has named the character after them. I appreciate nods like that and the lengths the character Gazal has gone. It is strength personified. Forna tackles some important issues in this book that are incredibly relevant.

This is a captivating read. There are so many layers to the storyline, and I can’t imagine where we will go from here. Is it too soon to ask when we can get book 3? Thank you, Random House, for sending this along.

Favorite Quotes

“I can’t fall apart-not now, when everything is so dire, when everything I thought I knew is once again crumbling. Who will put me back together if I do? Who will repair me after all the ways I’ve been broken by this night?”

“… grief is like an ocean. It ebbs an’ flows, an’ it takes ye by surprise. Ye can’t control the ocean, my love, no matter how much ye try. Ye just have to follow it where it leads.”

“The goddesses may be your mothers, but they didn’t hold you in their arms when you were a baby, kiss your scraped knee when you fell.”

“But I suspect that after all that’s happened to ye, yer so used to abuse, ye’ll take anything that looks like motherin’, even when ye know it’s not.”

“Sometimes, lies are for your own benefit. They prevent you from falling prey to those who mean you harm.”


This is such a super fun book; I encourage you to check out the other stops on the blog tour at TBR and Beyond.

Many thanks to TBR for sending this along. I can’t tell you how excited I was to be joining this tour.

3 thoughts on “Blog Tour Review: The Merciless Ones, Namina Forna

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