×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Gilded Cage
     

Gilded Cage

4.5 8
by Vic James
 

See All Formats & Editions

A darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule, and commoners are doomed to serve—for readers of Victoria Aveyard and Susanna Clarke

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

Overview

A darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule, and commoners are doomed to serve—for readers of Victoria Aveyard and Susanna Clarke

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 their 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?

Praise for Gilded Cage

“Beautifully characterised and compellingly plotted, Gilded Cage is an impressive debut.”The Guardian

“An alternate modern-day England where enticing drama and social unrest mix with aristocratic scandal and glamorous magic . . . conjuring up the specters of Les Misérables and Downton Abbey . . . an absorbing first installment that presages an intriguing new fantasy series.”Kirkus Reviews

Gilded Cage is a heart-pounding combination of dark magic, political revolution, and forbidden romance that had me addicted from the first page!”—Danielle L. Jensen, USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy

“Devious and deliciously dark with lashings of magic, mystery, and mayhem, this juggernaut of a book will keep you hanging on by your fingernails until the very last page.”—Taran Matharu, New York Times bestselling author of The Summoner Trilogy

“A dark and intriguing vision of an alternate, magic-drenched Britain, Gilded Cage kept me up long into the night.”—Aliette de Bodard, author of The House of Shattered Wings

“Brisk plotting, sympathetic characters, and plenty of intrigue will keep readers on the edges of their seats, eager for the next book in a very promising series.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 09/12/2016
James’s clever debut, first published on Wattpad, introduces an alternate present day in which British society is stratified into aristocrats, who have magical skill, and mundane commoners, who are required by law to spend 10 years serving the skilled. Most end up in the factories and workhouses in Manchester’s infamous slave town, Millmoor. That’s the fate of 16-year-old Luke Hadley; the rest of his relatives are sent to work at Kyneston, the country estate of the Jardines, one of the most powerful families in the country. At Millmoor, Luke quickly becomes part of a secret group that helps ease the harsh lives of workers. Meanwhile, his parents and sisters are caught in the middle of Jardine family intrigues and political scheming that could change the country forever. The setting is so interesting that readers will eagerly suspend disbelief, and James drops tantalizing hints about how the rest of the world treats those who do and don’t have access to magic. Brisk plotting, sympathetic characters, and plenty of intrigue will keep readers on the edges of their seats, eager for the next book in a very promising series. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown, Ltd. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
“Beautifully characterised and compellingly plotted, Gilded Cage is an impressive debut.”The Guardian

“An alternate modern-day England where enticing drama and social unrest mix with aristocratic scandal and glamorous magic . . . conjuring up the specters of Les Misérables and Downton Abbey . . . an absorbing first installment that presages an intriguing new fantasy series.”Kirkus Reviews

Gilded Cage is a heart-pounding combination of dark magic, political revolution, and forbidden romance that had me addicted from the first page!”—Danielle L. Jensen, USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy

“Devious and deliciously dark with lashings of magic, mystery, and mayhem, this juggernaut of a book will keep you hanging on by your fingernails until the very last page.”—Taran Matharu, New York Times bestselling author of The Summoner Trilogy

“A dark and intriguing vision of an alternate, magic-drenched Britain, Gilded Cage kept me up long into the night.”—Aliette de Bodard, author of The House of Shattered Wings

“Brisk plotting, sympathetic characters, and plenty of intrigue will keep readers on the edges of their seats, eager for the next book in a very promising series.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Library Journal
★ 12/01/2016
Every person in England lacking the gifts of an Equal dreads their slave days, the ten years they must labor without wages or rights. Thanks to eldest daughter Abi, the Hadleys believe they have a better deal than most, as they have arranged to serve their decade together at the Jardine family estate. Things go wrong almost immediately, as son Luke is sent instead to the Millmoor workhouse where he falls in with a group plotting the end of slavery while the rest of the family are at the mercy of the Jardines. Debut novelist James does an excellent job of creating a dark contemporary world in which magic is used to prop up a corrupt aristocracy at the expense of ordinary people. Hopefully the details of this realm's powers will be fleshed out in the next volume, which readers will eagerly anticipate after the cliff-hanger ending here. VERDICT With solid YA crossover potential, this first novel should especially appeal to fans of Suzanne Collins's "The Hunger Games" trilogy. [See Prepub Alert, 8/22/16.]—MM

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780425284131
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/14/2017
Series:
Dark Gifts , #1
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
891
File size:
2 MB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

One

It was an unusually hot weekend in mid-­June and sweat pooled along Luke Hadley’s spine as he lay on his stomach on a blanket in the front yard. He was staring blankly at a spread of textbooks. The screaming was distracting, and had been going on for a while now.

If it had been Abigail trying to revise, Daisy and her pals would never have been allowed to make such a racket. But Mum had inexplicably gone into overdrive for Daisy’s birthday, which had turned into the party of the century. Luke’s little sis and her friends were careering round behind the house shrieking at the tops of their voices, while some unforgivably awful C-­pop boyband blared through the living room window.

Luke stuffed his earbuds in as deep as they’d go without rupturing anything, and turned up the volume on his own music. It didn’t work. The catchy beat of “Happy Panda” was backed by the delirious vocals of ten-­year-­old girls massacring the Chinese language. Moaning, he let his face fall forward onto the books spread out on the grass in front of him. He knew who he’d be blaming when he failed History and Citizenship.

Beside him, her own exams long since completed, Abi was lost in one of her favorite trashy novels. Luke gave it the side-­eye and cringed at the title: Her Master’s Slave. She was nearly finished, and had another pastel-­covered horror lined up. The Heir’s Temptation. How someone as smart as his big sister could read such rubbish was beyond him.

Still, at least it kept her distracted. Uncharacteristically, Abi hadn’t nagged him once about revision, even though this term’s tests were the most important until he finished school in two years’ time. He turned back to the mock exam paper. The words swam before his eyes.

Describe the Equal Revolution of 1642 and explain how it led to the Slavedays Compact. Analyze the role of (i) Charles I, the Last King, (ii) Lycus Parva, the Regicide, and (iii) Cadmus Parva-­Jardine, the Pure-­in-­Heart.

Luke grunted in disgust and rolled onto his back. Those stupid Equal names seemed designed to confuse. And who really cared why the slavedays had begun, hundreds of years ago? All that mattered was that they’d never ended. Everyone in Britain except the Equals—­the Skilled aristocrats—­still had to give up a decade of their life. Those years were spent confined to one of the grim slavetowns that shadowed every major city, with no pay and no respite.

Movement caught his eye and he sat up, scenting distraction. A stranger had walked up the driveway and was peering through the windows of Dad’s car. This wasn’t unusual. Luke jumped up and went over.

“Brilliant, isn’t it?” he told the guy. “It’s an Austin-­Healey, more than fifty years old. My dad restored it. He’s a mechanic. But I helped. It took us more than a year. I could probably do most of it myself now, he’s taught me so much.”

“Is that right? Well, I reckon you’ll be sorry to see it go, then.”

“See it go?” Luke was nonplussed. “It’s not going anywhere.”

“Eh? But this is the address in the advert.”

“Can I help?” Abi had appeared at Luke’s shoulder. She nudged him gently. “You get back to your revision, little bro. I’ll handle this.”

Luke was about to tell her not to bother, that the man had made a mistake, when a stampede of small girls hurtled around the house and thundered toward them.

“Daisy!” Abi yelled repressively. “You’re not to play round the front. I don’t want anyone tearing into the road and getting run over.”

Daisy trotted over to join them. She wore a large orange badge with a sparkly “10” on it, and a sash across her chest bearing the words “Birthday Girl.”

“Honestly.” Daisy folded her arms. “It was only for a minute, Abi.”

The man who’d come about the car was looking at Daisy intently. He’d better not be some kind of pervert.

“Birthday girl, is it?” he said, reading the sash. “You’re ten? I see . . .”

His face went funny for a moment, with some expression Luke couldn’t work out. Then he looked at the three of them standing there. It wasn’t a threatening look, but it made Luke put his arm around his little sis and draw her closer.

“Tell you what,” the man said. “I’ll give your dad a call some other time. You enjoy your party, young lady. Have your fun while you can.”

He nodded at Daisy, then turned and ambled off down the driveway.

“Weird,” said Daisy expansively. Then she gave a war whoop and led her pals in a prancing, cheering conga back round the rear of the house.

“Weird” was the word, Luke thought. In fact, the entire day had felt not quite right.

But it wasn’t until he lay awake in bed that night that it all came together. Selling the car. The fuss over Daisy’s birthday. The suspicious absence of nagging over his own exam revision.

When he heard hushed conversation floating up from the kitchen, and padded downstairs to find his parents and Abi sitting at the table studying paperwork, Luke knew he was right.

“When were you planning on telling me and Daisy?” he said from the doorway, deriving a grim satisfaction from their confusion. “At least you let the poor kid blow out the candles on her cake before your big reveal. ‘Happy birthday, darling. Mummy and Daddy have a surprise: they’re abandoning you to do their slavedays.’ ”

The three of them looked back at him in silence. On the tabletop, Dad’s hand reached for Mum’s. Parental solidarity—­never a good sign.

“So what’s the plan? That Abi’s going to look after me and Daisy? How will she do that when she’s at med school?”

“Sit down, Luke.”

Dad was an easygoing man, but his voice was unusually firm. That was the first alarm.

Then as he stepped into the room, Luke noticed the documents Abi was hastily shuffling into a pile. A suspiciously large pile. The uppermost sheet bore Daisy’s date of birth.

Understanding slid into Luke’s brain and lodged its sharp point there.

“It’s not just you, is it?” he croaked. “It’s all of us. Now that Daisy’s turned ten, it’s legal. You’re taking us with you. We’re all going to do our slavedays.”

He could hardly say the last word. It stole the breath from his chest.

In an instant, the slavedays had gone from being a dull exam question to the next decade of Luke’s life. Ripped away from everyone and everything he knew. Sent to Manchester’s filthy, unforgiving slavetown, Millmoor.

“You know what they say.” Luke was unsure whether he was berating his parents or begging them. “ ‘Do your slavedays too old, you’ll never get through them. Do your slavedays too young, you’ll never get over them.’ What part of that don’t you understand? Nobody does days at my age, let alone Daisy’s.”

“It’s not a decision your mother and I have taken lightly,” Dad replied, keeping his voice steady.

“We only want the best for you all,” Mum said. “And we believe this is it. You’re too young to appreciate it now, but life is different for those who’ve done their days. It gives you opportunities—­better opportunities than your father and I had.”

Luke knew what she meant. You weren’t a full citizen until you’d completed your slavedays, and only citizens could hold certain jobs, own a house, or travel abroad. But jobs and houses were unimaginably far off, and ten years of servitude in exchange for a few weeks of foreign holidays didn’t seem much of a trade.

His parents’ reasonableness knifed Luke with betrayal. This wasn’t something his parents just got to choose, like new curtains for the living room. This was Luke’s life. About which they’d made a huge decision without consulting him.

Though they had, apparently, consulted Abi.

“As she’s eighteen,” Dad said, following Luke’s gaze, “Abigail is of age to make up her own mind. And obviously your mum and I are delighted that she’s decided to come with us. In fact, she’s done rather more than that.”

Dad put his arm round Abi’s shoulders and squeezed proudly. What had the girl wonder done now?

“Are you serious?” Luke asked his sister. “You’ve been offered places at three different medical schools, and you’re turning them down to spend the next decade saying nin hao every five minutes in Millmoor’s Bank of China call center? Or maybe they’ll put you in the textiles factory. Or the meat-­packing plant.”

“Cool it, little bro,” Abi said. “I’ve deferred my offers. And I’m not going to Millmoor. None of us are. Do what Dad says: sit down, and I’ll explain.”

Still furious, but desperate to know how you could do days without going to Millmoor, Luke complied. And he listened with a mixture of admiration and horror as Abi told him what she’d done.

It was insane. It was terrifying.

It was still slavedays, and because he was under eighteen it wasn’t like Luke had a choice one way or the other. His parents could take him wherever they wanted.

But at least they weren’t taking him to the hellhole that was Millmoor.

Mum and Dad told Daisy the next morning, and she accepted the news with a stoicism that made Luke ashamed. For the first time, he allowed himself to think that maybe his parents’ plan was the right one, and that they’d all get through their days just fine, as a family.

A few days later, once it had all sunk in, he told his best friend, Simon. Si let out a low whistle at the big reveal.

“There’s a department within the Labor Allocation Bureau called Estates Services, where the Equals go for their house-­slaves,” Luke said. “Abi made an application for us there. We’re being sent south to Kyneston.”

Meet the Author

Vic James is a current-affairs TV director who loves stories in all their forms. Her programs for BBC1 have covered the 2016 U.S. presidential election and Britain’s EU referendum. She has twice judged The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. Gilded Cage is her first novel, and an early draft of it won a major online award from Wattpad for most-talked-about fantasy. She has lived in Rome and Tokyo, and currently lives in London.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Gilded Cage 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
bookbruin 13 days ago
Wow. Just WOW. This book completely blew me away. I was not expecting this amazingly and thoughtfully crafted dystopian world filled with such a fantastic cast of characters. I was hooked from the very start and could not put this book down. Gilded Cage has a whole slew of characters and connections to keep track of, but I swear it is all worth it. The story focuses mainly on the Hadley and Jardine families, specifically Abigail (Abi) and Luke Hadley and Silyen Jardine. The story is told from multiple points of view and each chapter was like peeling back the layer on an onion. Each voice was distinct and you get to go deeper into the inner workings of the character's mind and see just what makes them tick. I especially loved the contrast between how a character is viewed by others/presents themselves versus who they truly are. Not everyone is as they seem. The characters were wonderfully complex and there were lots of shades of grey between who was truly good and evil and what is right and wrong. Can something be truly good if it's done for the wrong reasons? What about something bad being done for the greater good? The pacing of the story was perfect and the conflicts encountered by our characters were at times intense. I don't think you could write a book about slavery and human decency (or lack there of) without eliciting these powerful emotions. The author gets you invested in these characters and you root for them to persevere and hurt with them when they struggle. The highs are incredibly high, filling your spirit with hope, but goodness, the lows are heartbreakingly low, tearing your heart right out of your chest. This is truly a testament to the superb writing and storytelling of Vic James. Gilded Cage really had it all and I cannot wait to continue on with this series! *I voluntarily read an advance reader copy of this book. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher*
Anonymous 14 days ago
One of the best books I've ever had the pleasure of reading! Totally original plot, superbly written, with amazing world building and well developed characters. It sucked me in from page one and never let go, I flew thru the story and was left wanting when the end came (far too quickly, mind you, as this is one I never wanted to end) and what an ending it was! I absolutely can't wait for the sequel! If you like The Red Queen then you will love The Gilded Cage! Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read and review this title!!
Sandy5 10 days ago
It took me a bit to get into this novel but once I did, I really enjoyed it. I was getting lost in all the different names that kept being thrown at me and I had a hard time moving between the two different stories as they shifted between the characters but eventually the novel started to take shape and the characters and their lives started to mean a great deal to me. Abi had put her families best interest in mind when she signed them up to go to Kyneston. She thought it was time for them to begin this service. They wouldn’t have to go to Millmoor to do their ten years of slave days but rather, they would work in Kyneston where they could serve as house slaves for ten years. It was a perfect plan until the day when they were to leave and Luke is not allowed to accompany his family to Kyneston. Guards transport him to Millmoor where Luke will begin his slave days without his family. Luke is not content with his current situation and instantly, I begin to see a transformation in Luke, as he adjusts to the hard world that is now his home. The rest of the family is ushered into Kyneston where they work as house slaves. Abi’s mind is set on reuniting her family, she is determined to put her family back together. I found the concept of the slave days interesting. It’s a unique concept but the reasoning behind it seemed to be unbalanced and distorted yet these citizens have been practicing it for years. I found this novel to be a great fantasy adventure and I look forward to the second novel in this series. I received a copy of this novel from Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine and NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.
LuluRoadsideReader 13 days ago
All I can say is I need the second book ASAP! Gilded Cage by Vic James is an impressive first look into a new, grim world that feels oddly familiar and appropriate given the current state of affairs in the world. Society is broken up into the haves and the have-nots, as those with special powers they were born with (and are acquired through inherited birth by a few it seems) are in control of Great Britain, while the plebs without power all must endure a ten year period of slavery. Characters are intriguing, especially those that are Equal. There is so much intrigue and family politics that we just don’t know and it drives me crazy! Silyen, the youngest of the Parva-Jardine family is the one with the most Skill, yet, the aristocracy isn’t Skill/merit based. It’s still handed down to the first born. Which puts emotionally unstable Gavar as next in line to rule one of Britain’s founding Equal fathers. James does something incredibly interesting when it comes to Gavar. She sets up an initial prejudice for readers, automatically framing him as an antagonist. Yet, for the rest of the novel, we see more than just the monster James paints in the prologue. We see there is a struggle there; he is volatile, yes, but he is loving too. He is extreme, and yet it is the reserved Silyen who gives off an air of detachment to everyone and everything, that proves to be the extremist. He is the one with the long game, though no one knows what it is, including readers. There is a sense of heavy worldbuilding here as Vic James mentions how different parts of the world are split up between Equals and commoners. America split in two, an obvious nod to the Civil War, but also the current heavy rift in society and culture. Britain itself remains aristocratic and parliamentary, but it has become more of a joke, as those with the most power tend to be the most in charge; physical displays of Skill taking command. We also get a heavy sense of history behind everything, giving the world a gravity that draws you in. I could talk about Gilded Cage by Vic James for hours. There are so many layers masterfully intertwined in a book that still remains firmly YA. Strong characters and solid worldbuilding make the political themes of the book flourish, giving readers a desire to make changes in their own world after seeing the inconsistencies and cruelties that are allowed to exist to the benefit of the empowered few. // I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title. //
onemused 14 days ago
"Gilded Cage" is a fascinating and haunting young adult fantasy. Imagine if in the 1600s, individuals were born with Skills (think somewhat along XMen lines). This book answers the question of what the modern world would look like, focusing on England, but with hints of other countries (E.g. US is divided into north and Confederacy, where north is ruined by common people, not those with Skills). In England, the Equals (people with Skills) defeated the monarchy and rule in the House of Light. Common folk must complete 10 years as a slave, no pay, harsh conditions, little food, and long working hours. Abi and Luke's family decide to start their slave years for everyone once their younger sister, Daisy, turns 10, the official youngest age one can begin their slave years. They think they've found a cushy position with an Equal family, the Jardines, the family descended from the Equal who overthrew the monarchy. However, Luke is separated from the family and sent to a labor camp, Millmore. The book alternates through perspectives to show how all these situations appear. It's a really intense and dark book. The Equals role with unfettered power and have no qualms about exerting it. The Jardines are mysterious, the three sons are very different- the oldest Gavar, the heir, is prone to violence and killed a slave whom he impregnated and kept her baby. The middle son is without Skills, which is unheard of. The youngest son, Silyen, if the most mysterious and powerful, but his motives are very unclear. The family finds themselves in danger, as many other slaves do. Luke finds a purpose bigger than himself- as Luke learns, Millmore changes everyone but how is up to the individual. The book ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, making me very sad I'll have to wait for the next. It reminds me of some other dark dystopian fantasies in terms of style, such as Chemical Garden and Lone City. This one is certainly different but has the same feel, if that makes sense. The alternating viewpoints were easy to follow and added a lot to the book, as you can see the situations from many eyes rather than just one. I had a lot of difficulty putting it down and will be anxious for the next installment! Please note that I received this book from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
pooled_ink 14 days ago
pooled ink Reviews: 4.5 Stars GILDED CAGE is a startlingly harsh but addictive version of this world. A book that is equally enchanting as it is terrifying, the story that unfolds is both quite serious and quite fantastical. Beautiful, dramatic, bleak, and exciting, Gilded Cage is a recommended read for any fantasy reader. James spins a story of an alternate world to the one we know. While they have cars, similar geography, and even wear jeans, in this world the elite few, called Equals, possess magic or, as it’s called in this book, Skill. Britain is sill run by a parliament however the parliament is comprised only of those born with Skill. Everyone else are commoners and all commoners are required to serve ten years as slaves. While most people serve their years in a slum-like slave town, in Luke’s case Millmoor, Abi manages to secure positions in Kyneston, the private estate to the most powerful Skilled family in Britain. It’s a relief, a dream come true next to the reality of the slave towns. At least it was supposed to be… No one really knows quite what the Skilled can do, but they will be quick to learn, and with front row seats to boot. The story is told via different POVs, which worked excellently for this book. It kept everything moving, changing, flowing, complex, and incredibly interesting. We watch the year’s events unfold through the eyes of both enemy and ally. Bouncing back and forth between Kyneston and Millmoor the realities and delusions of such places are unveiled before us. There are so many lies, charades, and ulterior motives that it’s almost dizzying if it were not so addicting to witness. Lord Jardine, Bouda, Jackson, Gavar …everyone seems to have a private agenda. Overall I really enjoyed this dark fantasy. It was alluring and quick. Read my full review on my Wordpress blog: pooled ink
Candace-LoveyDoveyBooks 14 days ago
Gilded Cage is the first novel of Vic James' Dark Gifts series. The fantasy series follows a cast of characters on different sides of a political battle. In this alternate Britain, aristocrats with special powers, or Skill, rule over ordinary, Skilless, people. The commoners must spend 10 years of their lives as slaves to the aristocrats. There are few of the aristocracy who would see the slavedays law abolished, but the majority revel in the power of their society. I had high expectations of Gilded Cage, but unfortunately they were not met. I wasn't immediately hooked into the story and instead read on hoping for something to grab me. Gilded Cage is like a foundation story. The parameters of the world are established and the main players of the story are pinpointed, and that's the most this story accomplished. I expected to be able to connect to the characters who were oppressed and had a reason to fight for their freedom, or fight for the safety of their family. However, the characters were one dimensional and not impressive, like Luke and Abigail. I thought they were going to be the sparks to ignite revolution. Instead, they let others manipulate and prod them into actions that were thwarted or amounted to more trouble. Though I appreciate the fast pace of the plot and the efforts to add action and excitement, it wasn't enough to make me want more. I walk away from Gilded Cage unsatisfied and strangely unmoved. It's rare that I find myself unhappy with a fantasy read, but Gilded Cage just didn't do it for me. *eARC provided in exchange for an honest review*
tpolen 14 days ago
I'm so glad I requested this book on NetGalley. From the dark, magical, and often brutal world, to the hidden political agendas, to the complex, and ambiguous characters, Gilded Cage ranks high on my list of YA reads over the past year. Although Abi and Luke are mentioned in the book description, they were far from the most interesting characters for me. The Jardine brothers are what drew me into the story and I'm still not sure what to make of them. My opinions of them changed over the course of the novel - I still think there's more to them than meets the eye and they may not be what they appear at first glance. That's the beauty of this plot - there's the top layer with the horrific slavery laws and the brewing rebellion - but there are so many undercurrents, subplots, and questionable motivations, the wheels of my mind were constantly turning, examining every character's actions. It's a wonderful challenge for the reader. Yes, this can be a dark, difficult read at times with the slavery and abuse scenes, but with fantastic, descriptive writing, strong characterization, and a unique YA dystopian plot, you'll be glad you gave it a chance. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.