Published by Macmillan on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult, Young Adult 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?
The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray is one I have had my eye on for a while. I mean, look at the cover! Also, the story itself was one I found very interesting. First, it is historical. Second, it is about a girl thrown into a life that is very unfamiliar to her and she does her best to survive. I will do my best not to spoil anything with this story but as a warning, there are some things I might happen to give away in the review.
Katherine is sixteen and finds herself moving from Virginia to England with her older brother. Due to the death of her paternal grandfather, they go from having almost nothing to being the wealthy owners of Walthingham Hall along with a title. Along with the house comes their cousins who at first appear to be there to help but I admit it, I figured something was up with these two. When her brother mysteriously drowns, Katherine finds herself very alone and unwilling to give up figuring out what really happened to him.
I did like Katherine as a main character. She never wanted the money, title, or lands ended up in their hands and it has been somewhat of a curse to her. All she ever really wanted was her parents and someone to love her like they loved each other. As she is introduced to the nobility around her and gets a better picture of what her cousins are really like, she knows she doesn’t really belong or even recognize herself any longer. With all of that said, she doesn’t lose her drive and/or motivation to find out the truth of things. When her brother dies and when John mysteriously dies and then is accused of some terrible things, Katherine knows that there is something happening that she needs to dig deeper into. Admittedly, she probably should have put more thought into some of her reactions/actions but as she is only sixteen, I figure most of them were due to her age.
As Katherine digs further into what is really going on at Walthingham Hall, she meets some interesting characters. First is William Simpson, a lawyer for her estate. I liked him but felt like he wasn’t fully developed. Pieces come out later in the story that reveal more but I wanted to have more about why he and Katherine connect. It wasn’t a quick development in any way but the interactions felt too few and far in between to really believe that these two loved each other. Bottom line…I wanted more of these two together.
There are also her cousins – Grace and Henry. It is clear they both have their own motives. Henry more so than Grace but they are both still horrible people. Grace clearly sees herself as better than everyone and tries to influence Katherine to follow in her footsteps. Henry is worse. He feels owed for everything and his payment should be Walthingham Hall and all the rights that and the title should bring to him. He does things without remorse and his sense of entitlement is frightening.
As Katherine digs into what happened to her brother, she finds out some things she was probably better off not knowing. When Henry finds out he has no chance of getting what he wants with Katherine in the way, he does what he does best. Plots and plans to get her out of his way.
Overall I thought Katherine was pretty well developed but wished we would have had a bit more of that with the characters surrounding her. The story itself was good but at times predictable. It was a fairly quick read and I did enjoy it. I do look forward to checking out more by this author and if you are looking for a historical YA, consider checking this one out.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy!