Written by: Lucinda Gray
Hardcover: 245 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Historical/Mystery
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?
One of my reading challenges this month was to read some historical fiction. As I was looking for something at my local library I noticed the cover of the Gilded Cage. This seemed to fit my parameters and sometimes young adult fiction can be rather fun.
Sixteen year old Katherine is more adept at handling a rifle and living on a farm than she is English society, but after her grandfather dies she finds herself navigating the latter along with her older brother George. Neither George or Katherine was expecting to exchange their quiet farm life for an estate life at Walthingham Hall in England, but here they are. Their cousins Grace and Henry have been the guardians of the Hall and do their best to help them find their way through their new life. But it all seems so foreign.
The day after George and Katherine’s formal introduction into English society, George is found drowned under mysterious circumstances. Katherine does not understand. George was an excellent swimmer and excited about the prospect of selling some of his paintings. Katherine suspects foul play but no one will believe her. Was it someone after their fortune? Or perhaps it was the mysterious beast of Walthingham. Will Katherine be able to solve her brother’s death before the killer claims her own life?
Things I liked: Guh that cover. So gorgeous. The setting was also great. The fact that she is supposed to stay silent and pretty is pretty accurate of the time period. As a young woman in English society she should not be bothered by the affairs of the estate or something as ghastly as her brother’s death. Don’t worry about things, go back to bed, mind your health…that sort of thing.
I both like and dislike Katherine. On one hand I like that she is bold, curious, and incredibly determined. However, sometimes she was very unbelievable. One of my biggest issues was with her language and mannerisms. She has lived most of her life as a farm girl in rural Virginia. I am not saying that she should have acted like some podunk innocent wide eyed farm girl, but her air and mannerisms along with her language choices betrayed her as someone with money and elegance far more than an American farm girl.
It’s a bit of a meh book. It’s not bad, but there are enough issues to make it good. Nothing stuck with me and yet, like I said, I didn’t hate it. I guess I just wanted more. I wanted it to be more gothic than it was. I wanted to like more of the characters. I wanted to feel the suspense of the who dunnit and is the beast real? If you are looking for a quick read though, this might be for you.
Things I didn’t like so much: I do have some issues obviously. Some minor, some not as much. It is a short read and lot happens in that short time, so much so that the latter half of the book feels rushed. So rushed that it is a tad unbelievable which takes you out of the story.
The love story is a bit laughable. The two that end up together hardly have any interactions with one another so their instalove is a little eye rolling inducing. There was more chemistry between Katherine and John than the two of them.
The characters are fairly one dimensional, only Katherine getting any real depth. The result is that most of the characters are one dimensional and flat. This means I never really had any real connections to any of the characters which made the suspense fall a bit flat as well.
The who dunnit is fairly obvious, but maybe this is because I watch too many mystery shows. None of these things made me hate the book, but it took me out of the story so many times that is was just disappointing. I guess I expected more because I saw the framework there and the potential for a full-fledged awesome story. It’s just not the story I got.
Buy or Borrow: Borrow. It was a quick read. Not super, but enjoyable.
Part of: Standalone
Also Recommended: For more historical goodness try the following: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd, The Caged Graves by Dianne K Salerni, and The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters.
2 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks