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Publisher's Summary

For readers and listeners of Victoria Aveyard and Susanna Clarke comes a darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule - and commoners are doomed to serve.

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 10 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?

©2017 Vic James (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

characters surrounded by damn good writing

My rating is 10 of 5 stars. Yes, it is that good.

Imagine walking into a museum and seeing a gorgeous medieval tapestry. The overall impact is overwhelming. Then you begin to notice the finer details. Strands of shining gold and silver catch your eye. You notice the less brilliant colors the silver and gold intertwined with. You begin to see patterns. You see how individual colors, whether vivid or muted, work together to create the whole work of art. I have just described The Gilded Cage by Vic James. It is a work of art.

I have read over 100 books this year, 2016, and The Gilded Cage is in the top 3. It is a finely crafted novel. It was released in February 2017 along with an audiobook version. I suggest you get both. I read 99% of books in electronic version due to a movement disorder. Gilded Cage and any sequels will be ordered in hardback. These I plan to give to my future grandchildren when they are old enough.

There are two main families in Gilded Cage. The Jardines , the “haves’, and the Hadleys, the “have nots”. It is what they have or not that makes this novel so unique. The Jardines have “Skill”. The Hadleys do not. Skill is the ability to use magic. This is not the learn the spells and potions of Harry Potter magic. This is the intuitive, instinctual, primal magic that flows from the individual’s soul. Not everyone can do the same things with Skill and not everyone has the same strength of Skill.

The universe Gilded Cage is set in has always had Skill as a part of it. The difference in England begins when King Charles the first (and last) is not overthrown by puritans. He is executed by a powerful Skill member of the aristocracy. A new system of government is set up. Parliament with only Skilled members. A few token Unskilled are allowed as observers. Other countries have different systems. In the States United of America, the Civil War was fought. The North has outlawed Skill while the South continues to follow the same system as Britain.

But the worse change is the years of slavery forced on the Unskilled. Each Unskilled man, woman, and child must serve ten consecutive years in slavedays to the Skilled. That slavedays can be in a factory area working six days a week, with barely enough food, and no rights. It can be served on the estate of one of the Skilled. It can be served when one is young or old or anytime in between but it must be served. Whether in slavedays or before or after, the Unskilled have no rights. They can be beaten, raped, killed and all with no consequence to the Skilled who did it or to the Unskilled who did it under the direction of a Skilled. This is the world which the Jardine and Hadleys cross paths.

The characters are very well developed. Abigail Hadley is strong young woman who forgoes medical school to enable her family to serve their slavedays together. She fights for her family. She works the system. She does what she needs to do without relying on anyone, let alone need a man to save her. Luke Hadley, Abigail's brother, is a sixteen year old, who in the way of all teens, somehow never thought his slavedays would really arrive. He must grow up quickly to survive.

The Skilled are not simple characters either. The Jardine family has its heir in Gavar, it’s mystery in youngest son Silyen and it’s total shame in middle son Jenner who is Unskilled. The premier Skilled family contains a son who may be the most powerful Skilled of all time and one of only two Unskilled ever born to Skilled parents. Each Skilled family has the head of the family and it’s heir sitting in Parliament. What each member of each Skill family has is an agenda all their own. One of my favorite parts is when one Skilled character remarks to another, “Your allies aren’t always who you think they are, Miss Matravers. And neither are your enemies.”

Avita Jay does a great job narrating the book. There are male and female voices. Voices from upper, middle and lower class. Voices that hold power and danger and voices that verge on voiceless because of their despair. Ms. Jay conveys all of this so very, very well. I hope she will be narrating the rest of the series because I know hear Abigail with her voice.

The novel has an ironic sense of humor. “Father was planning a debate. Silyen was planning a resurrection. And Gavar was planning a wedding. There was so much wrong with that, Gavar didn’t know where to start.” It is this wonderful combination of characters and themes surrounded by damn good writing that makes The Gilded Cage a must read. It is subtitled Dark Gifts #1 which means there is more to come. I cannot wait for Tarnished City to be released this fall.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Interesting, but not enough book for a trilogy

Ok premise but this would be a lot better as a single book and not a trilogy. It is obviously an attempt to make us pay for 3 books. Sigh.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wow! I wish there had been MORE!

This would have been a 5 STAR read for me; except I needed more. I needed to know how the law was written for the mandatory 10 year slave sentence for unequals. Meaning I need to understand how it works. For instance, at what age does it become a crime if you haven't begun to serve your term? Is it acceptable for a man or woman who is 60 to sign up for their decade of slave labor? And what is to young? What are the consequences of failing to commit?

Now moving on to the story itself. I wish we could have had some understanding as to why Abby chose to sway her parents into doing what they did. As smart as she is, why not allow her baby sister to have another 8 years or so to become who she is going to be and not have her childhood stolen?

And then there is Luke's 6 months where I needed more to empathize with him. I wanted to feel the heart acing, back breaking hell he was thrown into.

If all of the above had been included-Gilded Cage would've become an instant favorite of mine. Not just of this year, but an all time fav.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Unimpressive

I found the Gilded Cage to be poorly written, and a bit juvenile in both style and plot. I only got as far as chapter 6 before returning it, so perhaps if I had stuck with it I would have been rewarded, but I was too bored to carry on.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great story

Where does Gilded Cage rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

this was a good story with great characters and a few twists. I loved it....but....where is book 2???

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Waiting for book 2 and hope it comes soon.

What did you love best about Gilded Cage?

The whole story and all the characters.

What does Avita Jay bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Avita Jay bring an extra dimension to the book. The people come to life.

Any additional comments?

I am waiting for the next 2 books.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • M. Habeck
  • Oshkosh, WI United States
  • 06-03-17

Spellbinding page turner!

Wow. sucked me in and had enough twists that I can't imagine waiting for the next book. I highly recommend it.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sherry
  • Oceanside, CA. United States
  • 03-01-17

Great start to a new series!

Loved the story, loved the characters/ very diverse and multilayered, and loved the narration. Please hurry with Book 2!!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

loved this

great book. brings you right in, hate that i have yo wait for a book 2

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic!

So good! The characters are intriguing and the plot is action packed. I couldn't put it down.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful