Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James

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Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

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.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

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?

A boy dreams of revolution.

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.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

I picked up and ARC at NYCC in October.

I really liked the set up of this alternate reality where those with magical powers (Skill) are the rulers (Equals). Usually the magical beings are in hiding and have their own world separate from those without magic. This turn around makes for an interesting story with power struggles, political maneuvering, and a rebellion that’s going to be a bitch of a time. Some reviewers on Goodreads said it was too political and they couldn’t keep the characters straight. I don’t get what they mean. It’s YA and easy enough to follow.

I was happy that it was told from different POVs in the third person. That really gave the world building a fuller picture and we got to understand both the Equals and the slaves. Some characters got more chapters than others and so their story was better developed, but I hope to see more from Silyen in the next book. He’s so conniving and the most mysterious.

A great starting point for a new trilogy. I’ll be awaiting the next book.

4 out 5 Years of Servitude.