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Gilded Cage


Gilded Cage

What if your country was ruled by an elite class of people with special gifts and magical abilities? And what if the commoners --- everyone else --- had to sacrifice 10 years of their lives in forced servitude, or slavery, in order to gain their citizenship and keep their nation’s productivity moving along?

In Vic James’ fabulous GILDED CAGE, that’s exactly what’s happening. Britain and much of the world (except for France, which held a revolution, and the Union States of America, which forbids slavery) are ruled by the Equals. None of the commoners actually know what the Equals’ powers are; they only see them in glossy celebrity magazines or in photos of their grand estates. But their powers are enough to keep the Skilless in their places, serving out their 10-year servitudes as required by the Slavedays Compact. Families are generally separated as one or the other of them leaves to work in the factory towns. And the slavery always leaves its mark, sometimes in personalities that are irrevocably changed or when serious injury removes one’s ability to work or even live. But one girl has devised a plan that will keep her family together and safe.

"Vic James has created the most original, compelling and fascinating story and characters in this outstanding fantasy debut.... You won’t be able to put it down, and then you’ll desperately hope for a sequel."

Clever Abigail Hadley has received acceptance into medical school. But it’s time for her parents to do their slavedays. Rather than experience separation and virtual orphanhood, Abi has sought out a safe-ish place where the entire family can work off their 10 years: the estate of Kyneston, where all five (including Luke, who’s 17, and Daisy, who just turned 10) can live together and serve the aristocratic Jardine family as houseslaves. This will save them from the unforgiving, horrendous environment of a factory town like Manchester’s Millmoor. Yet serving on an estate of a ruling family of Equals with magical Skills may just have unexpected terrors of its own. The decision is made, however, and the day comes when the Hadleys leave their home and prepare to travel together to Kyneston. Dad will work as a mechanic, mom as a nurse, and Abi will work in the administrative offices of the estate. They’re not sure what the younger two, Luke and Daisy, will do.

However, it turns out that only four of them will be traveling to work at the Jardines’ estate. Luke is taken away to Millmoor, the factory slave town that’s feared and dreaded. Abi doesn’t know why. She thought she had arranged for all of them to be together! And before he even arrives at the polluted place, Luke has fallen afoul of a policeman/enforcer who carries a heavy truncheon and a powerful Taser, and is clearly inclined to use them brutally to keep others in line.

When the rest of the Hadleys arrive at Kyneston, they’re dropped off at a brick wall with no apparent opening and told to wait. And wait they do, until they hear hoofbeats on the opposite side of the wall. They’re startled when a golden ornamental iron gate appears suddenly where moments before there was only brick. Behind the gate are two young men on horses, the two younger Jardine sons. Abi thinks one of them seems kind, but the other fills her with unease. With a wave of his hand, he directs the gate to open, comes through and dismounts. He places his hand on each of the Hadleys’ shoulders --- a light physical touch, but one that shakes them internally to their centers. And then he rides away, leaving the family with the other brother, who leads them to their cottage as the gate closes and the wall disappears. The Hadleys’ slavedays have officially begun.

Life at the estate and the family Jardine are anything but straightforward. There is Aunt Euterpe, who has been asleep for 25 years. Brutal Gavar, the Heir, chafes under his father’s rule and his own future. Middle brother Jenner is Skilless, despite the family’s impeccable genetic line. Mysterious Silyen, the youngest, has a depth of power and ability that no one is aware of and has the potential to dramatically alter the entire country --- and to either save or destroy lives. And Luke is caught up in a small group that certainly must be trying to start a revolution in order to bring hope and change to those who don’t even have a voice.

Author Vic James has created the most original, compelling and fascinating story and characters in this outstanding fantasy debut. Readers are transported back and forth from the depressing squalor of Millmoor, to the golden estate of Kyneston, and learn all about the lives of those who populate them and the choices and decisions that will impact them all in ways they can’t imagine. Don’t miss GILDED CAGE. You won’t be able to put it down, and then you’ll desperately hope for a sequel.

Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds on February 17, 2017

Gilded Cage
by Vic James

  • Publication Date: July 25, 2017
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • ISBN-10: 0425284174
  • ISBN-13: 9780425284179