Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.
But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.
Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire's greatest threat.
Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she's ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.
The start of a bold and immersive fantasy series for fans of Children of Blood and Bone and Black Panther.---from the publisher
432 pages 978-1984848697 Ages 14 and up
Keywords: dark fantasy, epic fantasy, horror, special gifts, war, colorism, sexism, racism, child abuse, violence, African American and Black stories, African American author, Black Girl Books, If You Liked Beasts of Prey, 13 year old, 14 year old, 15 year old
Editor's note: child abuse/violence (Trigger warning)