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Gilded Cage: A BBC Radio 2 Book Club Choice 2017 (The Dark Gifts Trilogy) Paperback – 26 Jan 2017

4.5 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Age Range: 18 years and up
  • Publisher: Pan; Main Market Ed. edition (26 Jan. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1509821457
  • ISBN-13: 978-1509821457
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Beautifully characterised and compellingly plotted, Gilded Cage is an impressive debut (Guardian)

A dazzling addition to the growing genre of alternative historical fiction, James's first novel has the added bonus of compelling page-turnability (Daily Mail)

I really enjoyed this. It was a fast-paced, entertaining story, in a world that left me wanting to find out more. I will definitely be getting the next book when it comes out (Genevieve Cogman, author of The Invisible Library)

A dark and intriguing vision of an alternate, magic-drenched Britain, Gilded Cage kept me up way into the night (Aliette de Bodard, author of The House of Shattered Wings)

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, bestselling author of the Summoner series)

James's dystopian debut, the first part in her Dark Gifts trilogy, addresses issues of inequality that seem all to pertinent (SFX)

It’s smart, engrossing and incredibly snappily written, with so many compelling characters and pulse-quickening situations that the whole book just flies by. We apologise for the cliché, but it is that good (SciFiNow)

The historical parallels are too delicious to ignore . . . one can’t help but anticipate the next novel in the series (Washington Post)

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)

An absorbing first installment that presages an intriguing new fantasy series. (Kirkus)

Gilded Cage offers a fresh take on a popular genre. James' world is as compelling as her prose and as cleverly constructed. Told by a diverse cast of characters from various echelons of society, Gilded Cage is an unputdownable story . . . it's truly a gem (Fantasy Faction)

Ms. James writes with the skill of someone who has been an author for decades. I was blown away by how beautiful the prose was . . . In the end I was left emotionally spent and wanting another book to read immediately (Fantasy Book Review)

Twists and turns make this hard to set down (Booklist)

The most intriguing political fantasy premise since The Hunger Games . . . While the premise is unique, James’ addictive storytelling echoes the strongest qualities of a few of the political YA series of recent years (Barnes & Noble)

Book Description

An astounding debut from Vic James, and the first title in her gripping The Dark Gifts Trilogy.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Dec. 2016
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This novel is cleverly set in an alternate version of the modern world, where everyone in the United Kingdom is forced to give up a decade of their life in slavery. Ruled by Equals; skilled aristocrats with special, magical powers, who use their power to enslave the population and force them to work for them.

Luke Hadley lives a normal life with his parents, eighteen year old sister Abigail and ten year old Daisy. However, Abigail and his parents have conspired for the family to do their slavedays together as a family. Not in the grim, industrial Millmoor, which looms over Manchester where they live, but working for the First Family of the country, the Jardine’s, as house slaves in their family estate, Kyneston. It should be easier than toiling in Millmoor, and keep the family together, but, as always, the best laid plans go wrong…

Fantasy novels are not something I normally read, but, sometimes it is good to try something outside your comfort zone and I really enjoyed this. Abigail has spent her life reading about, and romanticising, the Equals; but will she be prepared for what she finds, when she discovers the true extent of their powers? Meanwhile, the Jardine’s turn out to be a family with issues of their own, including three sons who include the belligerent, unstable heir Gavar and the sinister, powerful Silyen. As Daisy falls under the family’s spell and Luke begins to fight against the system, the family have to struggle in a world where they have joined a state of legal ‘non-personhood.’

This is obviously the first book in a planned trilogy and the ending will certainly leave you wanting to know what happens next. A very well realised alternate world, with characters you will certainly come to care about. I am glad I took the chance on reading something a little different and look forward to reading on.
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By Jo on 7 April 2017
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good book.
Slightly different to the typical fantasy book around nowadays.
Interesting enough characters and good plot (bit predictable).
I will probably read the next book in the series when it is released.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Heard about this book on Radio 2 and was intrigued, so thought I would try it. The author pulls you in with such ease and how the chapters are named I thought was brilliant. Thoroughly enjoyed this and hope book 2 is just as good.
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Thanks for the recommending this book. I could barely put it down. I wonder if the author is a Mancunian.
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Fun and easy to read would suit teenagers perfectly, I particularly enjoyed the whole government/class set up and political systems which were very believable and how this interacted with the characters development and general plot.
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Totally hooked. Can't wait for the next book. Easy, descriptive writing. Definitely my favourite genre of alternate reality.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story:
Gilded Cage is set in an alternate England similar to ours but with one big difference. The ruling class have magic and everyone else has to dedicate ten years of their life to work as slaves, either toiling in factories in terrible conditions similar to the 19th century British industrial revolution, or by serving their betters in whatever positions they might be required to fill. Luke Hadley, his sister Abi and their family are down to spend their slavedays serving the powerful Jardine family, but plans go astray. With no rights they are subject to the Jardine’s every whim – which comes with a new set of problems. And with their options looking bleak, it doesn’t take long before the seeds of rebellion start to take hold.

My thoughts:
Gilded Cage has an interesting concept, but I found that the characters all felt a bit one dimensional. They didn’t feel real and I didn’t really care about what happened to any of them. I finished the book a few weeks ago and even though admittedly I’ve read a couple of new books since then, I couldn’t remember the names of the main characters and had to look them up to write this review!

I found this with Abi in particular. She isn’t given much depth and although she talked about her feelings and worries, I didn’t quite buy into it. Luke is the only character I really liked. He goes through some genuine struggles and I understood his motivations. The parents are basically non-existent and the other characters just aren’t given the page space to really develop.

In a genre where there’s so much competition, I felt that this book was a bit forgettable. I’ve read a lot of similar books in this category, and they do tend to stick to a tried and tested formula.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The idea of the Gilded Cage was really good, an elite with special powers and everyone else forced to spend ten years as a slave to them, either at one of the elite family homes, or in the factory cities, with the people themselves having to sign up to do their "slavedays", balancing the decision to do it early and lose their youth, but become full members of society, or do it later in life when they're maybe not as able and haven't been able to live fully as they are not considered full citizens until their slavedays are complete.

I have to say as good as the concept for the book was, I just couldn't get into it. We follow the journey of one family. The parents, older and younger sister are placed with one of the elite families, while their brother is sent to a factory town. I found the clash between the almost overly-romanticised stately home where the bulk of the family is sent and the grim, and fairly gruesome factory town where the brother is sent to be particularly jarring. It was like reading a mix of Jane Austin and a Catherine Cookson novel.

The book seemed well written, it's just the overall effect didn't appeal to me. If you like the idea of Jane Austin meets Catherine Cookson with a touch of fantasy thrown in, then there is a good chance this is the book for you.
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