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Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts) Hardcover – February 14, 2017
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“Beautifully characterised and compellingly plotted, Gilded Cage is an impressive debut.”—The Guardian
“Exquisitely wicked . . . a lavishly opulent, yet brutally vivid, alternate England which subtly questions modern beliefs . . . If ever there was a speculative fiction book that captured the zeitgeist of an era this is it.”—SFFWorld
“An alternate modern-day England where enticing drama and social unrest mix with aristocratic scandal and glamorous magic . . . conjuring up the specters of Les Misérables and Downton Abbey . . . an absorbing first installment that presages an intriguing new fantasy series.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Gilded Cage is a heart-pounding combination of dark magic, political revolution, and forbidden romance that had me addicted from the first page!”—Danielle L. Jensen, USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy
“Devious and deliciously dark with lashings of magic, mystery, and mayhem, this juggernaut of a book will keep you hanging on by your fingernails until the very last page.”—Taran Matharu, New York Times bestselling author of the Summoner series
“A dark and intriguing vision of an alternate, magic-drenched Britain, Gilded Cage kept me up long into the night.”—Aliette de Bodard, author of The House of Shattered Wings
“Brisk plotting, sympathetic characters, and plenty of intrigue will keep readers on the edges of their seats, eager for the next book in a very promising series.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Vic James is a current-affairs TV director who loves stories in all their forms. Her programs for BBC1 have covered the 2016 U.S. presidential election and Britain’s EU referendum. She has twice judged The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. Gilded Cage is her first novel, and an early draft of it won a major online award from Wattpad for most-talked-about fantasy. She has lived in Rome and Tokyo, and currently lives in London.
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Top customer reviews
In fact, it hindered the author from being able to develop the characters and get the reader emotionally engaged. Had the author not put herself in a position where she had to gloss over/quickly go through the parts of the story that would have been perfect for emotionally engaging the reader in order to keep the story moving. For example, building the budding romance between Jenner and Abi. We got about 3 sentences that informed us that they shared little looks, he kept her longer than necessary, etc. We were also informed of his attributes. We didn't get SEE his attributes. Or SEE the budding romance. Had we, we would have cared about him. Had we, we would root for them.
A good book, a good story, doesn't TELL you, they SHOW you. They use words and phrases that bring you in and make you feel. This book does not.
Being slaves for 10 years was a little unbelieveable. I get it, the author changed the history of modern earth in order to make this work. She's far from the first author to do so. I love fantasy, paranormal books. But it just didn't make sense that (literally) just a handful of people are Equals and everyone else were commoners that had to slave for 10 years of their life. And that's it's been this way for a few hundred years. I just don't see it this author's particular setup as viable, even in an alternate earth with a totally different history. I feel like a revolution would have happened MUCH sooner in all honesty. Perhaps that's just me though.
I kept thinking the setting was modern, as there are many modern elements mentioned.....but it also seemed historic as well, as there were a lot of historic elements....and for some reason the two didn't mesh quite right. Maybe because I don't live in England and never actually been??? So I deem a lot of things "England" historic??? I'm an American reader of historical romances as well, though I haven't read one in many years. A lot of those historic romances took place in historic England.
Idk, it might just be me.
The author attempted to be suspenseful.....but it just didn't work. That's the only way I can put it
Anyways, it seemed the author was on the verge of something great....and it just fell flat.
This book follows the unskilled (no magical ability) Hadley family into their obligatory ten years of slave service to the Skilled elite. Skilled are also known as Equals. I'm not sure why. The family is supposed to all go to a beautiful estate of one of the most powerful skilled families in England, the Jardines. Only they have no use for the brother Luke, so he gets sent to a slavetown called Millmoor, where he falls in with a handful of rebels and helps to start a revolution from the inside. Meanwhile, his oldest sister Abi is crushing on the unskilled Jenner Jardine, and the youngest, Daisy, is busy getting in the good graces of the heir, Gavar Jardine.
Also there's Silyen Jardine. Who is the best character in the book. He's always doing stuff, you just don't know why. I'm sure this will be explained in future books, but in the meantime, he's wonderfully gray. Whose team is he on? What is his goal? These are the questions that kept me turning the page.
My biggest complaint is that I wanted to connect more with these characters, but I couldn't. The view point was constantly switching. I don't mind changing viewpoints, but there never seemed to be a reason for the change. I think Luke is supposed to be the main character, and of all the POV characters I connected with him most, but honestly I couldn't tell. The problem with having at least four viewpoints in a three hundred page book is that each character gets less than a hundred pages to win you over. I think this many POVs is better reserved for longer books.
The world building was great if you can suspend disbelief on a few key factors. For example, every unskilled must complete ten years of slave service. They can choose when they enter service, and after completion of their ten years, they obtain full citizenship rights. However, given the deplorable treatment of slaves, I really can't imagine any kind of citizenship is worth completing your ten years for. Why not wait until your almost dead? Why enter at all if no one makes you enter at any specific time in your life? The Hadleys seemed like they were doing well enough prior to entering. They owned a vintage car, they threw a birthday party for their ten year old, and Abi had books to read. The motivation wasn't clear at all. Additionally, I'm curious about the people who work at the Labor Enforcement Bureau.. Are they not obligated to complete service? Have they already completed their slave years? If not, how are they chosen to do those jobs? I really hope some of these questions are answered in the future books. In a book where slave labor is so central to the plot I'd expect there to be better motivations or laws in place to explain these things. As it stood, slavedays seemed like it would be easy enough to avoid.
I do think the setting and the tone of the novel were captured very well. Having read a few of these kind of novels this year, I think Gilded Cage captured the feeling of civil unrest better than most of them (which is why I gave it four stars despite my complaints above). The slavetown setting seemed miserable. Luke and the other rebels start with small acts of defiance, like stealing medicine and food to give to those in need. They slowly graduate to graffiti, hacking, and prison breaks. These were the moments in which Gilded Cage shined, because the progression of the revolution starts so small whereas some of the others I've read seem to just start off with a violent bang. When I picture a revolution happening in the real world, I picture it starting with things like this.
The politics of the Skilled were twisting and turning. There was a twist at the end of the book that I definitely didn't see coming. It was a great twist. I knew something of that nature was coming down the line due to the author's foreshadowing, but it was not at all what I expected and it hit me like a slap in the face.
Overall, I do think that the character's of Luke and Silyen warrant a second look. Tarnished City is due to be released early next year, and knowing what I know now about this series, I'm excited to pick it up!
Most recent customer reviews
Quick & Dirty: A commoner family is caught up in the magical aristocracy’s game of power.Read more