Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1)
by Vic James
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?
4 of 5 Stars
I got completely immersed in the in this book. The combination of world-building, characters, and interweaving stories all came together to form something I had a hard time pulling myself away from. Let’s break it down a little.
The characters are portrayed well and give all kinds of life to the ongoing plot. In terms of narration, we alternate between the perspective of different characters. I was able to get a feel for each character on a much more personal level that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. This is especially true for the equals like Bouda and each of the three brothers. Surprisingly I don’t really have a specific character that is my favorite but I like just about all of them. Luke was the most fleshed out character with his struggles going on in the Slavetown. He’s also the character that sees the most growth in this first book of a series. What I loved most was the brothers and how even Gavar who could have been portrayed in a very evil and dark light was given an immense amount of humanity and even goodness.
There are so many things going on in this book plot wise that it would be easy for it to become confusing or muddled. Instead of feeling overloaded or lost, it just felt more real. I didn’t notice any side stories that felt unnecessary or like filler. In fact, I wish a little more closure had been given to a few, specifically to the circumstances around Lily’s mother. I’m hoping this is something that gets more attention in the future.
With all of the side stories, characters, and things going on it would be equally easy for this book to have draggy info dumps but I’m pleased to say it didn’t. From the very beginning, this book is filled with plenty of action that kept me turning the page. This only picked up toward the end when I felt a lot of things started happening at once. At a certain point I couldn’t put it down and I ended up staying up quite late finishing the book. It’s not quite a cliffhanger ending but almost. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.
Big thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.