Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts Series #1)

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts Series #1)

by Vic James

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Overview

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts Series #1) by Vic James

MAGIC RULES. WE SERVE.
 
In a darkly fantastical debut set in modern-day Britain, magic users control everything: wealth, politics, power—and you. If you’re not one of the ultimate one-percenters—the magical elite—you owe them ten years of service. Do those years when you’re old, and you’ll never get through them. Do them young, and you’ll never get over them.
 
This is the darkly decadent world of Gilded Cage. In its glittering milieu move the all-powerful Jardines and the everyday Hadleys. The families have only one thing in common: Each has three children. But their destinies entwine when one family enters the service of the other. They will all discover whether any magic is more powerful than the human spirit.
 
Have a quick ten years. . . .

Praise for Gilded Cage

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

“Exquisitely wicked . . . a lavishly opulent, yet brutally vivid, alternate England which subtly questions modern beliefs . . . If ever there was a speculative fiction book that captured the zeitgeist of an era this is it.”SFFWorld

“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 series

“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)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425284155
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/14/2017
Series: Dark Gifts Series , #1
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 563,869
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About 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.

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One
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Excerpted from "Gilded Cage"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Vic James.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Gilded Cage 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
bookbruin More than 1 year 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 More than 1 year 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!!
eclecticbookwrm More than 1 year ago
This book gave me a gigantic book hangover. Vic James worldbuilding shines. Her characters are amazing, nuanced and deep. Highly recommend for dystopian/fantasy fans.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Compelling story with multiple points of view.
ShesGoingBookCrazy More than 1 year ago
My relationship with this read was strange. While I thought the concept was brilliant, I had a tough time actually getting into Gilded Cage until more towards the end. The setting sounded (and was) absolutely amazing. Well, not amazing considering there is apparent oppression of a certain populace. I mean--amazing as in, what a brilliant idea for a dystopian novel!? Getting into the book, however, proved to be difficult throughout the first half. Perhaps it was due to the more explanatory nature in tone in order to set the stage for the remainder of the story? I'm not really sure. While this book is undoubtedly dystopian, it naturally reads like any historical fiction, which may be a part of my overall confusion and inability to immerse myself into it further. Technically being a science fiction read, this book simply didn't feel like one, which, by no means is a bad thing! Perhaps because this book crosses some boundaries, it rests at a place higher than my categorical mind can comprehend because I've been conditioned to think that "Sci-fi" and/or "dystopia" mostly means futuristic. Gilded Cage certainly breaks the mold that has been determined by most other books in this genre. The world is set in modern-day Britain, but it doesn't feel like it. Society is divided into two parts: aristocracy, and commoners. The aristocrats have a major advantage on their side: they can use magic. Because of this, they have assumed positions of power and privilege. Anyone outside of the elite group of magic users must spend ten years in servitude. These unfortunate souls get to pick when they serve, but nothing can get them out of it until after ten grueling years and then their freedom is granted. Nice, huh? Whether it be for a wealthy family, or in the slums, wherever one is placed, he or she must go. The divide in lifestyles is immediately exemplified by the vast differences between the Hadley family, and the Jardine family. The Hadleys, being of non-noble birth, are commissioned to work for the wealthy and powerful Jardine family. Through a debacle, Luke is placed in one of the factory slums instead and forced to separate for his family. Having a vastly different experience from the rest of his family in the factory city, Luke uncovers a populace of people desiring change in the system. The ability to use magic shouldn't be the sole reason why certain people held high places in society. Seeing the amount of injustice most people must go through for these elite individuals, Luke decides to partake in a diverse and secret group pushing to make a change in the system. This plot was thick and complex. Even so, the way things took place felt natural and possible with the world created here. In this way, this plot was effortless and functioned well. On the other side, because there was so much happening throughout this story, it was difficult to follow at times. Many characters are cast for variously sized parts, making it difficult to keep track of who's who and what their purpose is. However, the climax and end of this book does a good job to wrap up the overall plot and clarify the functionality of some people throughout. I think in general that this book will garner mixed reviews. While the content is original and with depth, the material doesn't present the "feel-good" atmosphere many readers are looking for. Oppression, slavery, and mistreatment of humans aren't light topics. Despite this fact, I appreciated the author's ingenuity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Drawn in from the get-go, I couldn't put this book down. Fast-paced and full of well-developed characters, plus a plot twist I never saw coming. I haven't been that surprised in ages. All things said, this is an artfully woven story and I can't wait for the next one!
The-Broke-Book-Bank More than 1 year ago
Trigger Warning: “Slave Days”, Violence, Mindfucking, Pyscho White People, Torture, Naked Guy Trained as a Dog + Kept On A Leash, (but there’s only light kissing so prudes don’t worry!!) What can I say? Don’t read this. Don’t get sucked into another fantasyland with an allegory for racism and literal “slave days” that people VOTED for?!? Okay, just don’t… I was very close to DNF’ing the book. It was obvious, cliche, bunch of stupid white people running around, reeked of privilege, stupid crushes, etc. Just every terrible thing you’ve heard about YA Dystopian and Paranormal books, especially the clueless privilege. And then the rebellion kicked in and the politics got deeper and characters got interesting and I kept reading til the damn end. I am so disappointed with myself over it. So much wasting time and energy spent on this and I just do not have anything nice to say about it all. Will I continue the series? No. I still don’t recommend it. I should have quit while I was ahead instead of falling into such a stupid, annoying, problematic POS. *sigh*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like the story. It started out with a strong world view and the writing was smooth and easy to follow. Unfortunately, I found the "Love" story to be contrived and not convincing. I did not like the constantly switching viewpoints. The brutality was over the top and the hopeless ending was cruel. This is just another feeder book to a series and based on past series read, this book will be the gentlest of the books written. I definitely do not want to read more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SecondRunReviews More than 1 year ago
I acquired Gilded Cage by Vic James at MidAmericon II last summer. I was thrilled to get an ARC, by chance, at the event and even more delighted when a few of my fellow bloggers started mentioning the book because I had picked up a copy months prior! I’m rarely ahead of book craze game so I was somewhat proud of myself for selecting a book that others were excited to read as well. At the end of the Gilded Cage left me with too many questions. What EXACTLY can the Equals do? Is Skill magic? Where does the power come from? Why do some people have Skill and others don’t? Because I got the distinct feeling that perhaps Skill can be transferred and/or manipulated by Skilled folks who have stronger powers than another. What is the political game at foot here? Instead of love triangle, there is a political game triangle (maybe even a different shape happening) and it is confusing! Silyen, Bouda, Silyen’s father and his cronies, the Equals trying to bring justice to the Unequals/Slaves/Commoners (what were they called again?!) What is the point to having so many points of view in such a short book? Here’s the list: Leah (who only shows up once), Abi, Luke, Silyen, Gavar, Euterpe (who only shows up once), Bouda. The multiple points of view muddled the story, created an incomplete picture. As a reader, I felt detached from the story. I spent most of my time struggling to get to know the characters and understand their motives, as well as figuring out the world and its rules. In the end I was angry at the rushed ending and confused about how the world worked. Unfortunately, Gilded Cage is a mess. Told from way to many points of view, you never get a complete painting of the world, its political structure, its magical rules or what game is being played. There are two many players for a three hundred page young adult novel. This felt like a Song of Fire and Ice (aka The Game of Thrones) for kids, but less masterfully composed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cannot wait for the 2nd in the series!
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
“Gilded Cage” is a good take on a dystopian world mixed with fantasy elements. The story is well-thought out with multiple points of view effectively used to both advance the story and tell it from different segments of the society. The world-building is excellent. All of the characters are complex and leave some mystery to them to be explored in the next book. There are definitely some parallels to the current political climate throughout the book to be found. I recommend “Gilded Cage” to lovers of dystopian books mixed with some magical elements. It’s a quick and relatively clean read that is thought-provoking and fun. I’m looking forward to the next book. This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.
13835877 More than 1 year ago
Gilded Cage is one heck of a debut novel for Vic James. The world of Equals and Commoners engulfed me from the beginning. I loved following all of the twists and turns of the different families. Having the chapters rotate points of view really added to the story and help me connect with all of the characters involved and either love them or extremely dislike them even more. I already have book 2 added to my wishlist because I NEED to know what happens next!
Aditi-ATWAMB More than 1 year ago
“Always look at the people, not the mass. A face, not the crowd. Look at the world, not the ground. Every little detail you see is a victory.” This book has been on my radar for quite a while now. It sounded like exactly something I would read and honestly, I have no idea why I waited so long to start reading it. Before I began, however, I did read a few reviews that told me that this book contained a lot of politics, but honestly, that had me EVEN MORE excited to dive in! I do believe that a good fantasy book should have enough governance for it to be believable. Gilded Cage is a powerful page-turner, filled with politics and rebellion, family and courage, love and freedom that will leave you desperate for more. SOME OF THE THINGS I LOVED INCLUDE: 1. THE BRUTALITY: Honestly, I would have been disappointed if this book wasn’t brutal. A Skilled Aristocracy that have the power to alter and erase memories, control over the weather and the elements and healing that rule over common folk – HOW COULD THEY NOT BE BRUTAL? While it shocked me, all the brutality made the book what it was. 2. THE REBELLION: When I read The Lunar Chronicles last year, the one thing that hit me was how the rebellion seemed SO EASY to orchestrate. IT ISN’T. Otherwise, anyone would do it. The rebellion or rather the growing unrest among commoners in Gilded Cage was believable, palpable and it made me feel like I was in a slave camp, right there with them. 3. SILYEN JARDINE: If you know me, you know that I CANNOT RESIST A SLIGHTLY SOCIOPATHIC HUMAN/ VILLAIN LOOKING OUT FOR ONLY HIMSELF. Silyen was such a BEAUTIFULLY COMPLEX character with POWER and a BRILLIANT MIND and I cannot wait to see what Victoria James does with him next. 4. THE MULTIPLE POV’s: I usually find it hard to get used to/ remember multiple points of view in a book, but IT WAS SO WELL DONE this actually was a huge plus point for me. I LOVED EXPLORING the minds of all the characters – Leah, Abi, Luke, Gavar and even Bouda and Euterpe. THINGS I WISHED WERE EXPLAINED MORE: 1. THE SKILLS: The Skilled or the Aristocracy or the people with Magic’s abilities were SO VAGUE. Apart from a ONE LINE naming of all the various Skills, I got nothing. Do the Skilled have ONE SKILL or can they have a number OR does it depend on how Skilled they are? What even ARE the different kinds of Skills? I wish that these were a) described better and b) that we saw MORE OF THE POWER because there was more drinking than power being thrown and I NEED MORE, OKAY? 2. Jenner and Abi: These two would be on the top of the list of romances I DID NOT GET. I swear, the minute she saw him Abi a) blushed and b) thought, “If he wasn’t an Equal (Aristocrat) he might be someone I let myself love and be loved by. WHAT. And then there were a few scenes about some office romance – but I FELT NOTHING. It was insta love that COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER but was such a C-plot line that it just felt like a waste. A book DEFINITELY worth diving into. A brutal, powerful, political fantasy with high stakes and intense prose. I can’t WAIT for more! 4 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A land of Lords and the commoners. The story takes it to a level of skilled power over those without. It would make an interesting movie. Special effects and all.
Sandy5 More than 1 year 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 More than 1 year 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 More than 1 year 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 More than 1 year 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 More than 1 year 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 More than 1 year 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
8
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is not the kind of book I read.