When I saw rumblings around that there was a new UK YA series launching about slavery of non magical people by those with powers, I was intrigued.
What I’ve found in Gilded Cage is so much more.
James has created a rich world of intrigue, rivalry, rebellion and politics that I can’t stop thinking about. This is an ambitious dystopian future story that reminds me of The Bone Season, so Samantha Shannon fans should get on this series asap.
The Hardman family are gearing up for their term of indentured servitude, a legal tradition in Britain where commoners give up their rights to be slaves to the magically skilled aristocracy for a service of ten years.
Clever daughter Abi has managed to wangle her whole family into one placement with the the prominent but ruthless Jardines at Kyneston estate. Except it quickly becomes apparent that younger brother Luke is deemed surplus to requirements and dispatched to the brutal factory town of Millmoor.
Divided, the Hardman children face brutality on all fronts while Abi tries to maintain order, Luke becomes embroiled in a rebellion and young Daisy is left holding the cruelest Jardine’s baby daughter, orphaned by his own hand.
The novel is told in first person point of view chapters that not only slips between Abi and Luke, but Jardine children Gavar and Silyen (my favourite) as they deal with the Proposal to end slavedays that rattles the aristocracy. Alongside them are canny Bouda, future wife of Gavar and one or two important characters.
This is a dense thrilling story of political blackmail, uprisings and fighting for your life in dystopian industrial yet magical Britain. The final few chapters left my heart racing wildly as the plot suddenly galloped to the conclusion – a really wild ride! I’m absolutely ravenous for the follow up, Tarnished City. Please don’t let me wait too long!
Interested? Get it here.
What to read next:
- The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
- The City Bleeds Gold by Lucy Saxon
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Thank you to Pan Macmillan and Vic James for sharing this copy with me.