I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray
Release date: August 2nd, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: Young adult, mystery, historical fiction
After growing up on a farm in Virginia, Walthingham Hall in England seems like another world to sixteen-year-old Katherine Randolph. Her new life, filled with the splendor of upper-class England in the 1820s, is shattered when her brother mysteriously drowns. Katherine is expected to observe the mourning customs and get on with her life, but she can’t accept that her brother’s death was an accident.
A bitter poacher prowls the estate, and strange visitors threaten the occupants of the house. There’s a rumor, too, that a wild animal stalks the woods of Walthingham. Can Katherine retain her sanity long enough to find out the truth? Or will her brother’s killer claim her life, too?
I had high hopes for this book. Before reading it I had read a few reviews on Goodreads that were less than spectacular, but I went ahead hoping that it would be different for me. In the end, the synopsis was more exciting (and promising) than the story actually ended up being. Basically, it ended up being a mixed bag. I didn’t love it but I didn’t dislike it either. I guess I’m on the fence? I don’t know!
- At around 256 pages, the book was quite short. Mixed with short chapters and cliffhanger-like endings, the book ended up being a quick read. Once the mystery started I found myself pushing on and wanting to read more and more. You just need to push through the first 20% (see below).
- I really liked the heroine, Katherine. She’s intelligent, strong and says what’s on her mind. The contrast between her American sensibilities and that of her English cousins made for great drama and tension. I also really felt for her. Much of the book had her fighting for what she believed in and having people try to silence her because she was a woman.
- The atmosphere was perfect for this type of book! The old English house, the isolation, dark woods and an asylum. SPOOKY!
- As a huge cover fan, I LOVED this one! I particularly enjoyed the scenes that took place in the snowy forest. The contrast between Katherine in her English finery and the foggy, creepy forest pretty much sums up the book really well.
- What drove me insane at first was the fact that nothing…NOTHING…really happened for the first 20% of the book. I was expecting to get into the mystery much sooner. There were hints (a possible beast on the grounds, shadows in the forest) but it was just mostly an introduction to English society (etiquette, balls, clothes).
- The romance (as with a lot of things such as secondary characters) was completely underdeveloped. There was very little build up or believability. I felt nothing for the relationships or characters. This is important to me as a reader. I want to be completely immersed in the story and need to care about the characters. Indifference is never, ever a good thing!
- As much as I loved Katherine, she’s constantly marginalized because of her gender. Yes, it’s the time period but it was so frustrating! The male characters consistently brushed her off. Then, when some piece of evidence was found, it was always by a male character!
- The plot was pretty predictable and that says a lot because I am absolutely horrible at solving mysteries. There weren’t many twists either so I think that made it easy for me to figure it out early on.