Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gilded Cage ~ Vic James (earc) review [@DelReyBooks @DrVictoriaJames]

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1)
Del Rey Books
February 14, 2017
368 pages
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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?
Gilded Cage is the first book in the Dark Gifts series and when you finish it, you're going to hate that you don't already have Book 2! (Luckily, Tarnished City will be out in September!) Don't worry, though, that Gilded Cage has some giant cliffhanger ending, it does not. After everything that happens, especially in the immediate run-up to the ending, you're going to need to know what happens next.

It also was not just the ending that I liked about this book. I love that it Vic James didn't just put the Equals, with their Skills or the slavetowns in an England what was otherwise unchanged from the actual England. Rather, there's an alternate history she created (and not just for England) that makes for a fuller, richer world. It helps in understanding how and why things are how they are -- and how the characters feel about it. You understand better, thanks to the context and history, why they can't just not serve their decade.

There are several narrators for the book, more than half of a dozen, actually, and I thought it was going to be confusing or make it hard to connect to the characters. I was surprised by how well it did work. The three or four main narrators allow readers to see into the different parts of society, the different lives characters are leading and the mindset of someone in that position. The other narrators (that we hear from less) also give some pretty crucial insight and allow us to see things at all or in ways that we wouldn't have relying on other characters.

Gilded Cage was a more complex, intricate fantasy than I was expecting but was still close enough to the world we live in to make the differences that much more stark while aiding in readers relating to the characters. Now that I know more of both the world and the characters, I am really, really looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book, Tarnished City (and if things will have to get worse before they get better).

digital review copy received, thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley

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