Two Minute Review: The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray

Saturday, July 23, 2016
Title: The Gilded Cage
Author: Lucinda Gray
Genre: historical fiction, gothic
Series: N/A
Pages: 245
Published: August 2 2016
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: 2/5

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?

The Gilded Cage is a YA novel with a fairly gothic premise and an interesting beginning, but in the end, it's chiefly hampered by its lack of length at less than 250 pages and also from the lack of dimension given to the characters.  Short on characterization, short on original premise, and just kind of a lackluster effort all around. The feel of the story is the best aspect by far -- from Virginia to England, Gray knows how to nail the atmosphere. The rest of the novel leaves a lot to be desired.

The story follows main character and narrator Kate through a serendipitous turn of luck that soon turns out rather ill for the sixteen year old. An unknown relative dies, leaving Kate and her brother a sudden inheritance, and then death and danger follow in close suit. Even from just reading the premise and synopsis, this is a book that is easy to predict. Gray falls victim to the genre tropes of gothic stories, instead of using them in new or creative ways. 

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