Title: Gilded Cage
Series: Dark Gifts #1
Author: Vic James
Publisher: Del Rey
Publishing Date: February 14th, 2017
Number of Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy, Dystopia
Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.
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?
First, I want you to know what exact thought came into my mind after reading this. And that is “Uhm, can I have the next installment now? As in NOW?”
Meet the Jardine brothers. The Jardine’s are the most powerful and has the highest position among the Equals.
Gravar Jardine, the Heir of the Jardine’s. Among the three, he has the hottest temper and he can really get angry easily. Even though he is the eldest and heir to the great Wittham Jardine, he always feels like he is still not good enough for his father. And that is also what his father is reminding him and making him feel always. His Skill is not good enough. And aside from this, he also brought such a disgrace to his family that Wittham despise – Libby, his daughter to a slave.
Jenner Jardine, the Skilless. He is the kindest. I saw more goodness in him than any of the other Jardine’s. He is not soft or weak – an Equal even though Skilless will never be like that – but he is just the nicest of the three. He’ll be my new fictional boyfie if I just didn’t fell for the other. *blushes*
Silyen Jardine, the Young Master. Even if he’s the youngest, he is the most Skillfull. Silyen is cruel and the most wicked of the three. His character also is being mysterious. He loves playing games – dangerous, wicked games. He’s good at and enjoys making people his toys or subjects of entertainment. But still, I find him really sexy right from the start. He’s bad – there’s no doubt to that – but I love how powerful and smart he is. And I have so much questions about the real him. He’s like a riddle I am trying hard to solve. (*whispers* Silyen Jardine is my new fictional boyfrie!!!)
Meet the Hadley’s. Hadley’s are not Equals, they have no power, they’re just commons.
Abi, the eldest of the three and the smartest. She’s pretty good at almost everything. And she’s the reason why the Hadley’s did their slavedays on the Kyneston – where the Jardine’s live – where she thought slavedays for their family will be easier and safer. She’s intelligent and brave. A perfect picture of a big, loving and protective sister and daughter.
Luke is the second to Abi, and he’s the only member of the Hadley family who wasn’t accepted to work for the Jardine’s so he was sent to Milmoor, a horrible slavetown that seems like it had been suck out of life. Luke definitely had a hard time there but there is where he met revolutionaries who helped him be who he had become. He’s one of those who had a very good character development in this book.
Daisy, the youngest. A 10 year old that will develop infatuation (or something deeper? I’m not entirely sure but let’s see) for one of the Jardine’s – which actually, came to a point of disturbing not only Abi but also me as the reader. Because err… she’s only 10 and err.. it’s one of the Jardine’s! That feeling inside her can be her early downfall.
Abi, Daisy, Luke and their parents’ lives will be tangled up with the dangerous and powerfull Jardine’s.
Gilded Cage was really entertaining and has a really cool and exciting concept but it lacks on some aspects from the very start and I was not satisfied for most of the time because of that.
Gilded Cage was set on modern-day Britain. It was told on third person’s POV where in each chapter, characters were alternatively focused. Only one character will be the subject of a certain chapter then it will change on the next.
The story revolves around the Equals – aristocrats with magical skills literally called as Skills – and commoners who are required to do their slavedays for a decade of their lives. Slavery and rebellion are where the story was focused but love and magic were also present. These are all my favorite themes in a book. And Gilded Cage had been a wonderful combination of these all.
Right from the beginning, I was not really impressed. I was so disappointed. The beginning chapters really set me off. It was really nothing like what I had hoped for and expected. It was dragging from the start. And because there were so many characters in this book, a lot of time was given to introduce each of them that was a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. It’s good because we are knowing them, we’re having some of their backgrounds, we’re learning their each and own stories and where their “hidden agendas” in their lives are coming from. And it’s bad because this took quite a lot of time, I felt like knowing the tip of the iceberg took almost half of the book. And it really felt boring especially for me because I am that kind of a reader who enjoys and loves being blown right away.
The writing was okay. The pacing changed from slow to fast as it got closer to the end. The world-building was the most disappointing for me. It was so weak on the beginning. And I just really didn’t feel it right then. The world-building was the weakest point of this book for me.
The story after more than the half of the book just slowly got better, exciting and surprising. As the time goes by and as I got closer to the end, the world-building – even just a bit – got better and so does the writing and all – especially where the story was leading. There was a sudden change in this book where the aspects lacking from the start became present closer to the end. Suddenly – I honestly don’t know how it happened – I just found myself being completely dragged into its dangerous magical world of wickedness, selfishness, greediness. The characters finally started showing off their powers – which is what I truly signed up for! Then more and more secrets have been made, kept and revealed as the story goes and got closer to the end by which really surprised and made me so excited. I clearly finally saw the REAL competition rising between the commoners and the aristocrats; the commoners who are fighting for their freedom and the aristocrats protecting their selves, their secrets, and their powers and positions. But the story was not just the Equals against the commoners. It’s also Equals versus Equals. And while I was in the middle of surprise from how the book was changing from disappointing to really entertaining, that’s when I realized that this book has a chance. This series stood a chance.
I’m expecting the next installment to start where Gilded Cage left off because how this book ended was so wonderful and magnificent. It came to a point where I started comparing the intrigue and intensity Gilded Cage has to Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen because it gave me the same feels sooner to the end. Though Red Queen is still really more heart-pounding, that’s definite. But Gilded Cage really has the potential to be like that. I know the book two has a lot more to offer and it will probably be a lot more intense and exciting. I know I wouldn’t put that book down.
Reading the first chapters of this book, I really thought that the highest rating I could possibly give was 3 stars. But after finishing it, I know that this book deserves a higher rating because of how magnificent this book had become. And the possibility it gives for a new fantasy trilogy with a world that already captivated me and I am more than willing to explore is quite exhilarating.
From dragging and disappointing, the pace got better, the characters became interesting and the story just became exciting and intriguing. From something far from what I had truly imagined it became closed to what I truly wanted. (What kind of magic Miss Vic James used in there???)
Gilded Cage is such a wonderful book. The ride may seem like nothing on the start but sooner it will be a ride that will make leaving a hard choice. I will definitely pick the next installments in this new epic fantasy trilogy.
Vic lives in London’s Notting Hill, but her life is more action-adventure than rom-com.
She studied History and English at Merton College, Oxford where Tolkien was once professor. Relocating to Rome, she completed her doctorate in the Vatican Secret Archives (they’re nothing like The Da Vinci Code), then spent five years living in Tokyo where she learned Japanese and worked as a journalist. She now writes full time.
Vic has scuba-dived on Easter Island, camped at Everest Base Camp, voyaged on one of the last mailboats to St Helena, hang-glided across Rio de Janeiro, and swum the Hellespont from Europe to Asia. But there’s little she loves more than lying in bed till midday with a good book and a supply of her favourite biscuits.
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*Thank you so much Penguin Random House International for providing me an ARC and Netgalley for the eARC in exchange of an honest review. The ARCs received by any means didn’t affect nor influence my review. #PRHPartner