Lately, I’ve been in the mood for a fantasy/sci-fi novel (as in a book that combines both genres, not the broad category you might find in a bookstore). I’ve picked up quite a few in the last year or so, but none of them were really catching my interest. When I saw Vic James’s debut novel, Gilded Cage, I decided to give it a chance. And it absolutely did not disappoint!
(From Goodreads) Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.
A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.
Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?
A boy dreams of revolution.
Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.
And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.
He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?
Gilded Cage was exactly the kind of book I wanted to read! It exceeded my expectations, and I really just fell in love with it. It contains a lot of elements that you’ve probably seen in other fantasy/sci-fi books, but it still seemed unique, which was nice. I think what makes this book stand apart for me was that it focuses a lot on politics. I really loved seeing a dystopian novel that really delved into the political system – even more so than the magic system. It’s something I’m always curious about, and it was very interesting to read about.
I also enjoyed that this novel utilized multiple perspectives. There are a total of five different perspectives (one or two of which we only see once), but so many characters are covered. There’s one main character I hadn’t even realized didn’t have his own perspective chapters until I went back and looked, because he is such a big part of the story. (I’m only just understanding how much I don’t know about him, and it’s going to drive me mad until I get my hands on the next installment.) I loved how complex the characters were both individually and as a group. None of the characters are entirely good or bad, they all have human emotions. It made for a really interesting story!
The plot itself wasn’t wholly original. This book has been compared to Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, and I can definitely see the similarities. However, I think the other, unique, aspects of this book made it seem like something different. Overall, it seemed a bit more mature than most young adult novels I’ve read, even though many of the characters are young (the main characters range from ten to around twenty-five/twenty-six, with three of the most important characters being sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen). Again, I think that has to do with the focus on politics instead of romance. There also wasn’t any magic ‘training’, which was so refreshing to see in a book with a magic system. While I wanted more explanation for a few parts of the story (I’m a backstory junkie), I like that the story wasn’t bogged down, and didn’t seem slow at all. I absolutely flew through this book, and had so much fun reading it!
This was right on the edge of five stars for me. I loved it! There were a few things I wish had been explained more, but I’m sure that’ll happen in the sequel. Overall, Gilded Cage was incredible – especially for a debut novel! I highly recommend it! (Even if you’ve sworn off dystopians.)
Gilded Cage will be available at all major book retailers starting Tuesday, February 14. You can order (or preorder) your copy here! (Or, to get it free, click the Audible link in the sidebar -or right here – and choose it as one of your two free audiobooks!)
And, good news for those of you who hate waiting a long time for sequels: the sequel in the Dark Gifts series – Tarnished City – is scheduled for release later this year! I can’t wait!
This book was provided to me by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.