book review · NetGalley · Random House Publishing - Ballantine

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts: Book 1) by Vic James

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts, #1)

Title: Gilded Cage

Author: Vic James

Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine

Date of publication: February 14th 2017

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

POV: Alternate 3rd person

Number of pages: 368

Series: Dark Gifts

Gilded Cage – Book 1

Tarnished City – Book 2 (publication date not stated on Goodreads)

Bright Ruin – Book 3 (publication date not stated on Goodreads)

Standalone: Yes

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

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?

My review:

Gilded Cage starts off with a young woman, Leah, running for her life across the ground of the estate she was a slave too….Kyneston. She is hoping to make it to the wall before Gavar and Jenner do. She has her baby, Liberty (aka Libby) with her and she is hoping that Libby would be able to open the gate so they could escape. It doesn’t happen. Libby doesn’t have the Skill to open the gate. Or as Silyen, the youngest and the most Skilled of the 3 brothers said, maybe she doesn’t want to leave her family.  It doesn’t really matter anyways because before Leah could do anything else, Gavar shoots Leah. Miraculously, Libby isn’t hurt and Gavar takes her back to the house….leaving Jenner to mourn over Leah. Jenner does try to get Silyen to heal her but he won’t…saying that even he can’t bring back the dead. As they are talking, Leah dies.

A few months later, we are introduced to Abi, Luke, Daisy and their mother and father.  Luke is the equivalent of a junior in high school and Abi, a senior. Their little sister, Daisy, is 10 years old. Luke is studying for his final exams when he notices a strange man looking at his father’s restored Austin-Healey. The man unnerves Luke, for some reason, and is quickly on his way after seeing that Daisy is celebrating her 10th birthday.

Later that night, Luke overhears something horrific. His mother and father have decided to enact their slave days. See, in this dystopian society, all commoners are supposed to serve the Equals, those who have the Skill and rule over the country, for 10 years. What is Skill….well consider it magic of a sort. The Equals can do anything with it…including healing, mind reading and building houses or maintaining a gate that only opens for the Equals. They are sent to a slave town (called Millmoor) to serve out their 10 years. After the 10 years are over, the commoners can hold certain jobs (never went into in the book), own a house and travel abroad.

So it is understandable that Luke is upset. He is losing 10 years of his life and Daisy, who is 10, will not be able to receive any education during the 10 years. Luke would be missing out on college, girls and the start of his life. I would be upset too.

But Abi had come up with a solution. She applied, for the family, at a department within the Labor Allocation Bureau called Estate Services. That is where the Equals go for their house slaves. Her application got accepted and they are being sent to serve the Jardine family on the estate of Kyneston. Seeing that Luke is under the age of 18, he goes with his family. It is the perfect solution to something that is dreaded in the lives of the common people.

Except it didn’t go that way. The day that they are being picked up by the LAB person to be driven to Kyneston, things change. The driver only has 4 names written: Mum, Dad, Daisy and Abi. Luke, unfortunately, gets sent to Millmoor. Which is unheard of because he is a minor. The officer, who was an idiot and I didn’t like him at all, and Luke’s Dad gets into a scuffle. Dad gets a beat down and the officer, Kessler, explains that they are all non people and have no rights. They all separate and then the story goes into Luke at Millmoor, Gavar at Kyneston and various areas , Silyen at Kyneston and Abi at Kyneston.

I couldn’t put my finger on how I felt about Silyen. He had an agenda and he wasn’t afraid to use people to get desired results. But I also saw glimpses of a kind person and of someone who could be more than what he was raised to be. If that makes sense.

Gavar did redeem himself in the book. I did feel bad for him because his father had an ironclad grip on him. It came out that he was in love with Leah but his father made him shoot her. Which is awful. But his father’s control over him was slipping. Gavar reminded me of an abused dog who is just waiting for its master to not be paying attention before tearing his throat out. I also feel that his fiancé will be caught up in that once Gavar snaps. But he does have a soft side. He loves his daughter and he is very taken with Daisy, who is Libby’s nurse and I believe that he would move heaven and earth to protect the both of them. It is going to be very interesting to see how Silyen and Gavar’s storylines end up in the other books.

Jenner was actually my favorite brother. He is Skillless but he is an asset to the estate and runs it. He is close to Silyen (well as close as Silyen lets him be) and he is getting very close to Abi. So close that Jenner’s mother, Lady Thalia, reminds him that he is an Equal (even if he doesn’t have powers) and that she is a slave and warns him off her.

Daisy had to have been my favorite person in the book. She was so upbeat and always saw the bright side of everything. She even liked Gavar, which kinda blew my mind. To be caring for a baby at her age was amazing (now granted Gavar did most of the caring for Libby when he was home and Daisy was just there as a babysitter) but still. She matured over the course of the book and I can’t wait to see where the author takes her character in book 2

I honestly didn’t know what to think of Abi. At times I liked her, at times I wanted to tell her to shut up and at other times I was in awe over her braveness. I am very interested to see what happens to her in book 2.

I felt awful for Luke. Being ripped from his family, put into an awful slave town and being worked to the bone, no wonder he became radicalized. His friendship with Renie, a girl his sister’s age, was very cute but at the same time dangerous. The events after was reunited with his family were beyond his control. I am very interested about what happens to him. Very interested.

Lord Whittman Jaradine, Gavar, Jenner and Silyen’s father, is a bad, bad, bad man. I literally got the chills when I was reading his scenes because his evilness just came off the pages. Again, a storyline that I would be very interested in seeing where it goes. I am also interested in seeing what happens between him and Gavar.

The end of the book ends as a cliffhanger, which made me want to yell. If you have read my reviews for any length of time, then you all know how I feel about cliffhangers. But, it did get me interested in book 2 (which I didn’t know there was going to be one until I pulled Gilded Cage up on Goodreads).

How many stars will I give Gilded Cage: 4

Why: A great dystopian book. This was a quick read with complex characters. I can’t wait to read book 2!!

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age Range: Teen

Why: No sex, no language. But there is violence…including a graphic scene of a head being blown off. Also, there is a disturbing side story about a man forced to live like a dog.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

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