Read on: 22/01/2017
Rating: ★★★★ 3.7/5
Release date: 26/01/2017 (UK)
Publisher: Pan Macmillian
*I got this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
“There’s no magic more powerful than the human spirit”
Set in an alternate modern world, some people possess powers, Skill, and some don’t. Whereas in most parts of the world that doesn’t matter, in the United Kingdom those who have power rule, those who don’t have to give ten years of their lives to slavery. Common folk are given the option of either applying to work those ten years in slavetowns or at Equal’s, those with Skill, estates.
Abi tried to get her whole family to work at an estate instead of a slavetown, as the rumours said those in such towns lead ten brutal years void of joy. Although Abi managed to get most of the family accepted at the Jardine’s, the founding family of the system in UK, estate, her brother was placed in Millmoor, a slavetown near Manchester, where the family was from. But a revolution was brewing long before Luke’s arrival at Millmoor. With his family way, Luke feels lonely and his hope to rejoin his family ebbs away with time, so when he gets a proposition to join a rebellious group in Millmoor, Luke accepts. At the Jardine’s estate, Abi finds herself falling in love for one of the sons of the most powerful Equal in UK while she slowly uncovers some of the family’s secrets, which changes her perception of the Equals.
Although set in modern England, it didn’t feel like it until very far into the book. There was never any mention of phones, computers, internet, or any other technology which define our generation and time. The only mentions that could tell you it is set in modern England is the existence of cars, television and technology to read chips and ID electronic cards.
However, the two things that bothered me the most were the ridiculous amount of characters that the reader had to remember right in the first book and the ridiculous names of the Equals. Instead of overwhelming the readers with so many characters it would have made more sense to make us care more about the two main characters, which I don’t think it was well achieved. And if the idea to give the Equals names which sounded posh or rare, stick to the ones given to royalty nowadays, like Charles and Henry, they already carry a certain connotation which would get your idea across without resorting to names like Silyen and Meilyr. Most names sounded out of a high fantasy book set in a whole different world, which is not a good thing in my opinion.
The idea is definitely great and it does have a lot of potential to have a great sequel. The first book had a lot of political intrigue and, although most of the plot twists were quite predictable (I had figured them all out long before they had happened), there are some very complex handful of characters which I thought was refreshing. I particularly liked Silyen, Meilyr and Luke. I liked Bouda but only because she struck me as a very strong female character that knows what she wants.
Although it can be improved, I think Gilded Cage is a great start for an intriguing story with a lot of political conflict and revolutions. I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel.