Title: Gilded Cage
Author: Vic James
Series: Dark Gifts, #1
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release Date: January 26th 2017
For readers of Victoria Aveyard and George RR Martin comes a darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule and commoners are doomed to serve.
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?
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received an ARC of this book free from Pan Macmillan. It in no way affects my views on Gilded Cage.
My Thoughts On…
If you had to spend ten years of your life as a slave would you rather it be when you’re young or when you’re old, and what choice would you make for your children knowing that if they complete their slavedays they will have better options when it comes to jobs and housing.
Luke is only sixteen years old when his parents sign them up for their slavedays as a family. Knowing he will spend the next decade as a slave, the best years of his life, is hard but at least they will all be together, and working at Kyneston for the Equals is better than being shipped off to Millmoor. Unfortunately for Luke the Equals at Kyneston don’t want all of them, and Luke finds himself alone heading off to Millmoor.
Abi promises to do everything in her power to get her brother back with the family and inside Kyneston where they can all complete their slavedays together. But she has very little power to do anything, and the Equal she is working for, Jenner, cannot help her anymore than she can. As Abi works with Jenner day in and day out, and her younger sister Libby works for Jenner’s older brother and the Jardine’s heir, she discovers that maybe Kyneston isn’t as safe as she first thought.
Meanwhile in Millmoor, working day in and day out at the Machine Park Zone D, Luke finds himself joining a group of fellow slaves who want to see change, who know that the conditions in Millmoor are not ideal but who believe they can do little things to help people out and make their slavedays more bearable. Then, something happens that could change everything, a motion is brought up by one of the Equals to abolish the slavedays; and for Luke and his friends at Millmoor it is a chance for rebellion.
Luke doesn’t want to spend the next ten years of his life as a slave, but still under sixteen after his parents sign the forms he has no choice. When he arrives in Millmoor Luke is all alone, and he dreads spending the next ten years there. However the more time he spends with Renie and her friends the more he believes in what they are doing, and how can he help their cause if he’s in Kyneston with his family. It’s dangerous, Luke knows that, but after a while he sees the good he is doing, they are doing, and believes they really can help bring about change.
Abi was the one who had the idea to go through the slavedays as a family, and she’s the one who got them all places in Kyneston, all except Luke that is. She feels guilty for leaving her little brother in Millmoor, and despite being told time and time again there is no way to get him out she still asks, still tries her bests to bring him home to them. Abi seems to take on a lot of responsibility in her family, maybe she feels it’s up to her to get Luke back when it’s her mistake, so to say, that led to him being in Millmoor without the rest of them.
One thing I was not a fan of was the romance between Abi and Jenner. I liked Jenner on his own as a character, as an Equal born without a gift he’s always felt like his family’s dirty little secret, and I liked Abi on her own as a character too. However when she was around Jenner it seemed like her everything that set her apart as her own character, an intelligent, family orientated and stubborn girl, seemed to fall in the wayside of her crush on Jenner. It was only really at the end, and don’t worry there are no spoilers here, that Abi seemed to become her own character again and I really started rooting for her.
The Equals are the rulers of England, and they have abilities that mean they’re better than everyone else and means they’re exempt from slavedays. The Jardine’s, the family who live in Kyneston, are incredibly powerful, incredibly connected and incredibly ruthless. Jenner, the only one without a gift, seems to be the only one who understands the plight of the people working their slavedays in the manor. Gavar, the heir, is cruel and has a terrible temper but there is more to him than meets the eye and I kind of enjoyed learning more about him. Silyen, the youngest, is hardly there at all. His gift is something new, something powerful and a little terrifying. and you’re never really sure where his motivations lie.
It isn’t just the Jardine’s who rule over England, there are plenty of other Equal families who all fight politically for power and control, scraping and clawing for any bit of power they can get their hands on, even if it means tearing someone else down on their quest to the top.
Gilded Cage is set in an alternate version of England. Everything is the same in terms of the technology and, most, of the landmarks; the only difference is that every person has to complete ten years of slavedays. This was introduced to leave the Equals free to rule the country but it is brutal and hard, and if you end up in Millmoor there’s no telling how you’ll come out but it certainly won’t be in one piece. Following Luke in Millmoor kind of reminded me of the stories you would read about old Victorian factories; long hours, terrible condition, horrible pollution, and dire circumstances all around. Luke ends up in a factory, one of the worst of the worst, but the whole of Millmoor is a horrible place to spend ten years. Kyneston is supposed to be better, safer, but in reality it’s just as dangerous as Millmoor only in a different way.
This book was incredible. Other than the relationship between Abi and Jenner, which I didn’t really care for, I have no complaints about Gilded Cage. The setting is amazing – the politics and the history of the world has clearly been well thought out – the characters are well written, and the story itself is addictive. The end of this book is a real game changer and a cliffhanger too, and now I really need the second book to find out what happens next.
What did you think of Gilded Cage? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.