Gilded Cage by Vic James, published by Pan Macmillan on 26th January 2017
Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.
Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?
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.
I thought that this book was brilliant! It really took me by surprise and swept me away to a modern Britain where slavery still exists and where magic runs in the air. It was an unusual mix of historical and urban fantasy genres but it blended together so well.
The premise of 'Gilded Cage' is that there is a magical aristocracy that all commoners have to serve for ten years of their life. The story follows one family, the Hadleys, who all agree to serve their ten years together at the beck and call of one of the most ruthless magical family of all - the Jardines. However, while Abi and Daisy end up with their parents, their sibling Luke is taken away to Millmoor, a slave factory town.
I initially found the book slightly confusing because nearly every chapter is alternatively told from a different characters' perspective. In the first ten chapters alone, there are six different points of view. What made all the difference was when the characters began to grow on the page and I developed a picture of them in my mind. It was then much easier to visualise them and their stories. My favourite chapters were at Kyneston with the majority of the Hadley family. The magical element of the book was so unusual that I found everything that happened absolutely fascinating.
The Jardines themselves were also incredibly interesting. There is brutal Gavar who I couldn't decide if I liked or hated, middle brother Jenner who I immediately wanted to see more of and younger brother Silyen who is the most mysterious one of them all. He has a dark skill that may change the world but was incredibly enigmatic and mercurial.
I'm not always a big fan of fantasy books but this was definitely my cup of tea. It had a really intriguing and original plot which had me hooked. I loved the whole concept for the series and I'm dying now to read the next in the Dark Gifts trilogy.