A Decent YA Mystery | Review of ‘The Gilded Cage’

By Cynthia Ayala

The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray Image Credit: Goodreads
The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Image Credit: Goodreads

Katherine Randolph spent her life on a small farm in Virginia. But when a mysterious lawyer enters her home announcing she and her brother are the heirs to the large estate, Walthingham Hall, in England, her life is forever changed. Her new life is full of splendor, launching her into the upper-class society. But after one night of fun, tragedy hits, and Katherine is stuck not knowing her to trust and whether she will be next in line to meet with a tragic end.

Published August 2, 2016 by Henry Holt and Co., The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray is a young adult historical fiction mystery that follows one young girl surviving in the aftermath of death.

Taking place in the 1820s, this novel fits perfectly into historical fiction, capturing some of the gothic tropes that work to build the tension of the story and create an eerie atmosphere to the story. Katherine is an interesting character to follow because she comes from Virginia of all places, she lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere, in a place where she had to deal with deadly animals venturing into her land. She’s a tough Western girl who knows how to use a shot gun. But now she had been thrust into this society that is completely out of her element and that is restricting everything about who she is and everything that makes her strong. This is a society that wants to make her docile and submissive, But the strength in her character is what makes her so strong and wonderful to read about because she is a woman who will not back down, who will not let a new world change all the small things in her that make her a strong character.

Katherine is the strongest element of the novel, but the tension all around it also serves the story well. Something is happening all around her and the tension there leaves the reader on the edge because it’s impossible to know who to trust and who isn’t trustworthy. It’s a guessing game for half the novel that keeps the reader on their toes looking around the corner alongside the protagonist, leading to a fantastic reveal by the ending.

There are some issues in the novel. Some of the romance in the novel comes off as force, as if Gray is purposefully putting these characters together not because she wants to but rather because she feels forced to. It doesn’t come off as natural for the reader because one moment Katherine is fixated on one person and then another for the resolution. While the character dynamics are strong, putting two and two together just doesn’t come off as natural for the reader. Then there is this mysterious story of a monster lurking around. For a big chunk of the story it’s almost as if Gray just forgot about it and remembered to tie it up at the very end of the story. It was an opening for Gray to do something very imaginative for the story, but again, it seems like she decided against it.

Overall though it was a decent story that did have some excellent tension and plot twists to make it an enjoyable read, (★★★☆☆ | B)

Product Details:

Pub Date: Aug 2, 2016

Page count: 245pp

Age Range: 14 & Over

ISBN: 978-1-6277-9181-6

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

List Price:  $17.99

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