The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
The must-read epic fantasy of 2021, as featured on Cosmo, Buzzfeed, BookRiot and Refinery 29.
In this West African-inspired world, girls are outcasts by blood and warriors by choice, perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone and Black Panther.
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in Otera, a deeply patriarchal ancient kingdom, where a woman's worth is tied to her purity, and she must bleed to prove it.
But when Deka bleeds gold - the colour of impurity, of a demon - she faces a consequence worse than death. She is saved by a mysterious woman who tells Deka of her true nature: she is an Alaki, a near-immortal with exceptional gifts. The stranger offers her a choice: fight for the Emperor, with others just like her, or be destroyed...