The Gilded Cage
by Lucinda Gray
August 2, 2016
Henry Holt & Co
Source: from publisher for review
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?
It’s 1820 and sixteen year old Katherine Randolph and her older brother, George, are whisked off to England after their only living relative dies and leaves them a large inheritance. Now the heirs of the Walthingham Hall estate, Katherine and George are being groomed by their kindly cousins and brought in front of the wealthy English society. Katherine is just getting used to her new home and privilege, when George is mysteriously drowned. Katherine’s insistence that his death was no accident sets of a series of dangerous and deadly events. Is someone out to get Katherine? Does the dreaded Beast of Walthingham actually exists?!
Lucinda Gray’s The Gilded Cage has an enticing premise, potentially fascinating historical setting, and the promise of dark and intriguing elements...but the story falls completely flat. The story desperately needs expanding (more world-building, better character development, more subtle storytelling) and the whole time reading it, I just felt as if something was missing.
When a story takes places in a previous time period, I want to feel truly transported to that time and expect some level of historical world-building, but I never felt that with The Gilded Cage. The lush descriptions of clothing is certainly fun and, at times, the dialogue felt historically accurate, but just aren’t enough to create a wholly believable and developed historical setting. The psychological and dark mystery laid out in The Gilded Cage held my interest for a while, but become quite predictable and clumsy. I was especially intrigued by the Beast of Walthingham storyline and its supernatural undertones, but this entire storyline just fizzled out in the end.
I didn’t hate or love our heroine, Katherine, or really hate or love any of the characters, they were just kinda there, ya know what I mean? Several of the characters, Katherine included, certainly have the potential to be engaging and interesting, but lack complexity, depth, and development. The Gilded Cage does feature romance for Katherine and I will admit that I was enthralled enough by the romantic elements to have chosen a favorite love interest.
My final thoughts: The Gilded Cage was not what I was expecting and just disappointed me in the end.
Lucinda Gray is the pseudonym of an American novelist who lives in New York.