cover image Gilded Cage

Gilded Cage

Vic James. Del Rey, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-425-28415-5

James’s clever debut, first published on Wattpad, introduces an alternate present day in which British society is stratified into aristocrats, who have magical skill, and mundane commoners, who are required by law to spend 10 years serving the skilled. Most end up in the factories and workhouses in Manchester’s infamous slave town, Millmoor. That’s the fate of 16-year-old Luke Hadley; the rest of his relatives are sent to work at Kyneston, the country estate of the Jardines, one of the most powerful families in the country. At Millmoor, Luke quickly becomes part of a secret group that helps ease the harsh lives of workers. Meanwhile, his parents and sisters are caught in the middle of Jardine family intrigues and political scheming that could change the country forever. The setting is so interesting that readers will eagerly suspend disbelief, and James drops tantalizing hints about how the rest of the world treats those who do and don’t have access to magic. 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. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown, Ltd. (Feb.)