Gilded Cage | Tarnished City by Vic James | Audiobook Reviews

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Gilded Cage | Tarnished City by Vic James | Audiobook ReviewsGilded Cage by Vic James
Narrator: Avita Jay
Length: 11 Hours 33 Minutes
Series: Dark Gifts #1
Published by Random House Publishing Group on February 14, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Action & Adventure
Pages: 368
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon

MAGIC RULES. WE SERVE.   In a darkly fantastical debut set in modern-day Britain, magic users control everything: wealth, politics, power—and you. If you’re not one of the ultimate one-percenters—the magical elite—you owe them ten years of service. Do those years when you’re old, and you’ll never get through them. Do them young, and you’ll never get over them.   This is the darkly decadent world of Gilded Cage. In its glittering milieu move the all-powerful Jardines and the everyday Hadleys. The families have only one thing in common: Each has three children. But their destinies entwine when one family enters the service of the other. They will all discover whether any magic is more powerful than the human spirit.   Have a quick ten years. . . .

Praise for Gilded Cage

“Beautifully characterised and compellingly plotted, Gilded Cage is an impressive debut.”—The Guardian

“Exquisitely wicked . . . a lavishly opulent, yet brutally vivid, alternate England which subtly questions modern beliefs . . . If ever there was a speculative fiction book that captured the zeitgeist of an era this is it.”—SFFWorld

“An alternate modern-day England where enticing drama and social unrest mix with aristocratic scandal and glamorous magic . . . conjuring up the specters of Les Misérables and Downton Abbey . . . an absorbing first installment that presages an intriguing new fantasy series.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Gilded Cage is a heart-pounding combination of dark magic, political revolution, and forbidden romance that had me addicted from the first page!”—Danielle L. Jensen, USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy

“Devious and deliciously dark with lashings of magic, mystery, and mayhem, this juggernaut of a book will keep you hanging on by your fingernails until the very last page.”—Taran Matharu, New York Times bestselling author of the Summoner series

“A dark and intriguing vision of an alternate, magic-drenched Britain, Gilded Cage kept me up long into the night.”—Aliette de Bodard, author of The House of Shattered Wings

“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.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Why Did I Listen To Gilded Cage by Vic James?

Gilded Cage by Vic James is a debut novel about a world in which some have magic and some don’t. What really sold me on reading this book was the sociology within. I am always one for reading books with complex societies. This book has got a society that is totally jacked up. When I saw that Gilded Cage was available at my library via Overdrive, I knew I had to borrow it. I like to ponder and think about things during my commute. This seemed like just the right book for doing that.

What’s The Story Here?

So, Gilded Cage is a tale of two families so to speak. It is about the Hadleys and the Jardines. The Hadleys are an unskilled family – meaning they do not have magic. Everyone in Britain who does not have magic must commit a compulsory amount of time as a slave before they are considered a citizen and free. The Hadley parents, Abi and Daisy end up working for a magic family, the Jardines. The son, Luke, ends up at this work house which was not the original plan. The Jardines, FYI, are what are called Equals. There’s three sons and the two parents. One son, Gavar, has a daughter whose mother was a slave that died trying to escape. The Jardines and the Hadleys end up pretty intertwined, because of the Hadleys working for the Jardines. Meanwhile, Luke gets caught up in revolution.

How Did I Like Gilded Cage?

This book was really good, but also kind of frustrating. I was frustrated at how awful life is for the non-Equals. We do see that other nations do not follow the same structure as Britain. There’s other nations where magic is outlawed, so they don’t have this compulsory period of slavery. I found myself really on edge too while listening. You see, there is a LOT of action in this book. Sort of. Like you find yourself just hoping everything is going to end up okay for the Hadley family. It’s really especially heartbreaking when Luke is separated from them. In all, Gilded Cage really does make you ponder.

How’s The Narration?

I listened to the audiobook of Gilded Cage at twice the normal speed. It is narrated by Avita Jay. The audiobook is 11 hours and 33 minutes long. Honestly, it flies by. Okay, true, I listened to it sped up. However, the story never feels slow or boring. I’d probably recommend reading it physically instead of listening as I didn’t retain as much of it as I could have. Yet, I did want to continue with the story via audio and after finishing put a hold on the sequel, Tarnished City.

Other reviews of Gilded Cage by Vic James:

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Why Did I Listen To Tarnished City by Vic James?

Tarnished City by Vic James is a book that I ABSOLUTELY had to listen to. This book is the sequel to Gilded Cage. With the way that Gilded Cage ends, there’s no way I am not continuing. And so, as I said I above, I immediately put a hold on this audiobook at the library. I could have read a physical copy, either as an eARC or a Hardcover. I just wanted to continue reading in the same format that I had already become accustomed to, however. Now I am ready for book three to see how everything plays out and ends for the Dark Gifts trilogy.

What’s The Story Here?

Okay, so, Tarnished City takes the dark nice of Gilded Cage and brings it up a notch. Basically the story picks up with Abi and Luke reunited for a hot few seconds. They then proceed to spend the rest of the book apart. Luke is forced to wear a golden, magical collar, given his rebellion. He’s also shipped off to a remote castle run by this sadistic lord who was said to have murdered another Equal. Abi is a fugitive from Millmoor. Daisy is still with the Jardines taking care of the baby. Gavar is getting married to another Skilled person named Bouda, who is the worst. And well, Silyen is kind of hard to really place into a category box. There’s a few storylines and a LOT going on.

How Did I Like Tarnished City?

The ending to this book is really wild. I mean, there’s something really dark that happens and I was just hoping against hope. Then there’s kind of this zero hour thing. It’s just really tense. I enjoyed reading that. Granted, I am still looking back at this book thinking about it and reflecting on it. It is very grim. I liked it, but I also wish that I had physically read it so that I retained more of it.

How’s The Narration?

Avita Jay also narrated the audiobook of Tarnished City. She does a nice job. I also listened to this one sped up — this time at 1.75 speed. It’s a relatively decent audiobook. It is well produced. There’s nothing really wrong with it. I am not sure how I will experience the next book in this trilogy though. The audio was good, but I am leaning hard towards physically reading it.

Other reviews of Tarnished City by Vic James:

Purchase or Preview Tarnished City:

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I have only read these two, so I can not vouch for the audiobook versions. I thought the first book was okay. I thought the second book was amazing. I like the darkness to it, and it really did go into a few directions I did not see coming. It will be interesting to see how the series wraps, whether it will maintain that dark edge or if it will wrap up like a fairy tale.

    I am glad to see they stopped marketing it as a YA novel. The first one was, and I did not understand why except for the fact that Abi and Luke are teenagers.


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