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Monday, September 26, 2016

GUEST POST: How many gods is too many?: Writing the Long War, Part Five by A J Smith


Gods are interesting. In no real sense do I believe in them, but that is beside the point. In a fantasy setting, they are almost indispensable - to me at any rate. A well-designed god can make its people do anything and call it divine. They can justify plots and schemes of such labyrinthine intent that the humans beneath them have little to no clue of what is happening. This applies to gods who intervene, gods who walk amongst men, and gods who remain distant and unknowable.

There are many ways of giving a character motivation, or justifying the actions of an invented people – “Because my god made me do it” is my favourite. The beauty of this is that things are never so simple. People’s actions may be driven by the divine, but they are seldom intellectually aware of this. The same is true of the reader, and it’s a gift to be able to write about things that can’t be seen... until they are. Because, no matter how distant or unknowable, the god will always reveal themselves eventually.

If this shadowy motivation is enough to sway a single civilization, imagine the possibilities of three or four unknowable titans, each with contrasting alignments. The avenues of conflict are endless. You can multiply this as many times as you like, revealing more and more layers of intrigue as you reveal more and more gods and the people who worship them. I’ve found that it can get out of hand, and that restricting yourself to a handful of gods is sensible. I relegate those I’ve invented and discarded to a shadowy time before the present when anything was possible, a Deep Time when infinity spewed forth deities from the very edges of their followers’ imagination. This is my storeroom for nasty entities that I’m fond of, but have no immediate use for. But they’re all still gods and can all be used when and if the need arises.

This may appear a bit dues ex machina, as if the gods can be wheeled out to deal with any problems that arise in the narrative. But not if they are already coiled around the living history of the world, just waiting for their chance at supremacy. This is the trick to effective use of ancient beings – they have always been there, letting flickers of their essence seep into the world, yet invisible to the reader.


Then we have the priesthoods. Should a god’s followers be representations of its divinity? Or ignorant mortals, flailing at eternity for a glimpse at their god’s motivation. I use both kinds. It’s always helpful to have men and women of god who actually know what’s going on, but they are the exception, not the rule. I’ve always felt that revealing too much of the unknowable diminishes its power, and when it does reveal itself it should illicit awe and madness, rather than divine revelation. I enjoy the hypocrisy of fantasy religions. Invariably, the most devout follower will have their faith shaken when face-to-face with the monstrosity to whom they’ve devoted their lives.

So, a fantasy world can have infinite gods. But a storyteller should always be wary of over-populating the heavens, for even if your pantheon are playing a well-defined game of chess over possession of the most followers or greatest power, the skies can get awfully crowded. Every god needs worshipers, every religion needs a creed or a motivation, and I think this is where the narrative should play out. Eternal titans of the world can joust all they like, but it’s at the mortal level where this jousting can redefine a nation’s boundaries or topple its kings.


GUEST AUTHOR INFORMATION: A.J. Smith is the author of THE BLACK GUARD, THE DARK BLOOD and THE RED PRINCE. He spent twelve years devising The Long War chronicles. When not living in the Lands of Ro, he works in secondary education.

NOTE: "Arjun Invokes War Goddess" artwork courtesy of Mukesh Singh.
Friday, September 23, 2016

SPFBO II Semi-Finalists Update (by Mihir Wanchoo)


This post has been delayed for quite a while and for that I apologize to all the authors in my lot. With an infant, my wife and I have been truly strapped for time. It’s not an excuse but just the sole reason why I haven’t had much time to blog and do mini-reviews for all the books in my list. Previously I had selected the first semi-finalist over in my first update.

I’ve though selected six potential books from my lot and I hope to interview the authors as well do a proper review for the finalist I choose among the six semi-finalists:
 - Powers of the Six by Kristal Shaff 
 - Storm Without End by R.J. Blain 
 - Hondus Pointe by R. D. Henderson 
 - The Moonlight War by S.K.S Perry
 - The Dungeoneers by Jeffrey Russell
 - Nolander by Becca Mills

I would also like to point out 2 books which narrowly missed out on making the cut: The Tree of Souls by Katrina Archer & Vacui Magia by L. S. Johnson. They were both intriguing however I had to choose only 6 titles. I will try my best to review them and interview the authors as well.


Congratulations to the six FBC semifinalists and my commiserations to the remaining authors. These books were chosen because they all delivered interesting characters, a terrific story, humor (in some cases), romance in others & had just the right tinge of darkness as well. Overall they held my attention throughout and I wanted to read all the way to see how the story ended.

That was a crucial point for me and so these six titles made themselves shine above everyone else. Keep in mind though that this is just my opinion and some other reviewers might like other books than the ones which I’ve selected. I would like to wish the remaining 24 authors all best of luck for their writing career and future books and now on to the semi-finalists. Thank you for your patience with me and congratulations once again. I’ll be contacting you all soon with interview questions.

Monday, September 19, 2016

GIVEAWAY: The Bloodbound Trilogy by Erin Lindsey


Official Author Website
Read "Five Things I've Learned About War" by Erin Lindsey (guest post)
Read "Epic Fantasy: Dinosaur or dynamo? by Erin Lindsey (guest post)

The Bloodbound trilogy by Erin Lindsey has been a series that's has drawn great reviews while breaking a few tropes and embracing many to give us a story that has been entertaining and exciting. Erin Lindsey & Fantasy Book Critic are excited to be giving away one set of The Bloodbound trilogy to One Lucky Winner!!!

To enter, please send an email to fbcgiveaway@gmail.com with your Name, Mailing Address, and the subject: BLOOD. Giveaway will end on 26th September, 12:01 PM and is open to participants in USA & Canada only!

Thank you for entering and Good Luck!

GIVEAWAY RULES:
 1) Open To participants in USA & Canada only
 2) Only One Entry Per Household (Multiple Entries Will Be Disqualified)
 3) Must Enter Valid Email Address, Mailing Address + Name
 4) No Purchase Necessary
 5) Giveaway will end on 26th September, 12:01 PM
 6) Winner Will Be Randomly Selected and Notified By Email
 7) Personal Information Will Only Be Used In Mailing Out the Books To The Winner

Friday, September 16, 2016

"Paper and Fire: The Great Library Book 2" by Rachel Caine (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)



 Read FBC's Review of Ink and Bone Here
Visit Rachel Caine's Website Here 


OVERVIEW:
Let the world burn.

With an iron fist, the Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion and, in the name of the greater good, forbidding the personal ownership of books.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower, doomed to a life apart from everything she knows.

After embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, and the Library, which is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control

FORMAT: Paper and Fire is the second novel in The Great Library Series. In order to best enjoy it, it is essential to read Ink and Bone first.

Paper and Fire is a YA fantasy/alternative historical fiction/dystopia/steampunk novel. It stands at 357 pages and was published July 5, 2016 by New American Library.

ANALYSIS: Rachel Caine's book Ink and Bone was another huge favorite of mine. It was a novel that had a very Harry Potter-ish feel to it, but it still had a unique feel. Everything from the concept and loveable character, to the world building was captivating. I was so in love with the book that I honestly could not wait for the second book, Paper and Fire to come out.

Considering how high my expectations were, the immediate question you should ask yourself is "Does Paper and Fire live up to the hype and expectations placed on it from the first book?". My answer would be "Sort of".

Paper and Fire is the ultimate definition of a middle book. The first novel, Ink and Bone, was so unique and surprising that it was a pure delight to read. It made readers want to love it. Paper and Fire, while a wonderful novel, doesn't have that sparkle and shine that comes with a first book in a series.

The biggest issue with Paper and Fire is its plot progression and speed. There is a lot of action going on during Paper and Fire. The characters are arranging rescue missions, running from enemies, and trying to stay ahead of The Library. Unfortunately, there is this feel of too much action.

The characters are always running around doing something or exploring a new place or looking for some clue. While this might seem like plot progression, there is very stagnant feel to the book. It is almost like all the characters did was run around and not a whole lot was accomplished. In fact, I ended the book and my first thought was 'We didn't really get much done'.

The entire second book is basically one giant rescue mission. There are some tidbits here and there that further a character's development or progress the plot a little, but not enough. It really had a feel of a lot of running around and not a lot of progression.

I will say the last few chapters opened up a whole new possibility for the next book and a lot happened in the end, but there were still a lot of missed opportunities throughout the book. Let's just say that there is a cliffhanger at the end and it will definitely leave fans of the series waiting in anticipation for book three.

Even though it was a rushed book and basically one giant rescue mission, it doesn't mean the book was bad. It just didn't have the appeal the first book did. There are still a lot of things I loved about the book – the idea of who controls what when it comes to knowledge and books, the whole portrayal that reading physical books is better than a screen on a tablet, and the whole idea that using technology to store information could result in some very important information being wiped away if the higher ups don't agree with it.

Overall, Paper and Fire was a fun read. It didn't have the wowing power the first book did in the series, but it wasn't bad. There is a lot to look forward to with this series and I honestly cannot wait until book three.  
Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ibenus by Seth Skorkowsky (reviewed by C.T. Phipps)


Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Dämoren
Read The Bookie Monster review of Hounacier
Read Fantasy Book Critic interview with Seth Skorkowsky
Read Building The Perfect Revolver by Seth Skorkowsky (guest post)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Raised in the swamps and pine forests of East Texas, Seth Skorkowsky gravitated to the darker sides of fantasy, preferring horror and pulp heroes over knights in shining armor. His debut novel, Dämoren , was published in 2014 as book #1 in the Valducan series; it was followed by Hounacier in 2015. Seth has also released two sword-and-sorcery rogue collections with his Tales of the Black Raven series. When not writing, Seth enjoys cheesy movies, tabletop role-playing games, and traveling the world with his wife.

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: After surviving a demon attack, disgraced police detective Victoria Martin tracks down the Valducans in search for answers. Recognizing her potential, and despite the warnings of the other knights, Allan Havlock, protector of Ibenus, takes her in as his apprentice. As the Valducans travel to Paris to destroy a demon nest infesting the catacombs, the knights find themselves hunted by an internet group intent on exposing them.

Victoria, who belongs to this group, must desperately play both sides to not only protect herself, but Allan, whom she has begun to love. Ibenus, however, has other plans. Ibenus is the third book in the Valducan series, for which Skorkowsky was shortlisted as "Best Debut Author" in the 2014 Reddit Stabby Awards.

FORMAT/INFO: Ibenus is an alternating persona novel with 410 pages. It is the third volume in the Valducan series but capable of being read on its own. It was released on September 13th 2016 in paperback and e-book format by Ragnarok Publications.

ANALYSIS: I'm a self-admitted fan of the Valducan series so I pre-ordered my copy and devoured it within the first day. The series is about a world full of monsters, demons, and other horrors which cannot be killed unless by a series of sentient holy weapons. Each book chronicles a different weapon and wielder's adventures.

This time around, we have the titular khopesh, a wielder, and his student. There's Allan Havlock, a seasoned demon hunter, and disgraced police officer Victoria Martin who have a relationship disrupted by the fact Allan is training her. Victoria dislikes the hold Ibenus has on her mentor while also disliking the secrecy of the Valducan organization.

Ibenus benefits from a more morally ambiguous conflict than the typical humans versus demons. A hacktivist named Tommy D has devoted himself to exposing the existence of monsters to the world with Victoria initially on his side. Actually, despite the author giving an argument against it, I'm 100% on Tommy D's side. Unfortunately, the novel takes for granted the audience will on the Valducan's side and portrays Tommy D in a much harsher light than I think the narrative really deserves.

Despite this, I very much enjoyed this novel as the questioning of the lead's practices is a ballsy move for an author. I also enjoyed the insight into how the Valducan organization recruits and trains their operative. I also liked the depiction of one of the trainees getting in over his head and meeting a fate which reminds us how dangerous their cause is. As the narrative lampshades, the Valducan group sounds very much like a cult when you describe a bunch of secretive demon-hunters working behind the scenes to save the world.

There's a few flaws in the narrative like fact Allan and Victoria's relationship seems ridiculously fast. It’s even commented on as such in the text. This is due to the supernatural effect of the holy weapons having an effect on their mind but, justified in text or not, seems like a narrative cheat. Likewise, I felt the ending was a bit darker than the author intended with the heroine's triumph feeling more like her corruption.

Allan and Victoria are both likable characters with decent chemistry. So, while their relationship progressed too quickly, I actually wanted to see them together. I also liked the guest appearance of Matt Hollis from the original Dämoren novel. I hope he'll get a second novel showcasing him and his magical gun but his bit here was quite entertaining. I really enjoyed Tommy D as well. While dangerous in his actions, he also felt like a man trying desperately to do the right thing and I tend to side with his reasoning over the heroes' own.

CONCLUSION: Like all previous Valducan novels, the action is great and the world-building is excellent. This is a series for those who enjoy. There's excellent character-buildng as well with a really intriguing moral conflict at the base. It may be a messy moral conflict I don't feel is properly resolved but it's one that has me chomping to buy the next book.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

GUEST POST: The 2 Most Important Questions In Science Fiction & Fantasy by Dianna Sanchez


As a child, I never asked questions. Questions were a sign of weakness. If you had to ask, you didn’t already know, so you were at the very least ignorant. At worst, it would turn out to be a stupid question, and then you were mercilessly ridiculed. It was always safer just to pretend you knew what the hell was going on.

So when I was nine years old and the children’s librarian at the Ernie Pyle branch of the Albuquerque Public Library took me by the hand, led me into the adult SF section, and placed a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring in my hand, it never occurred to me to ask who J.R.R. Tolkien was or which grand literary tradition he was drawing from. And when I began devouring the entire section in alphabetical order – Asimov, Beagle, Bradbury, Clarke – I never questioned the fact that all the names on those spines were Anglo names. I just assumed that science fiction and fantasy were Anglo territory, like so much else in my life.

It wasn’t until I went off to college at MIT that I learned the value, the utter necessity of asking questions. At about the same time I began, painfully, to speak up in calculus, I discovered black science fiction – Butler, Delany, Ellison. Someone pressed Love in the Time of Cholera into my hands, and I discovered that Hispanics write beautiful, mystical, mind-bending novels, but for some reason these were called magic realism rather than fantasy or science fiction.


I began to ask the obvious questions I should have been asking all along: "where are the Hispanic SF writers? Why are there no Hispanic characters in SF?" In the late 80s, I finally found Diane Duane’s So You Want to Be a Wizard with its Hispanic protagonist, Kit Rodriguez. His partner in magic, while not Hispanic, had a Hispanic name, Juanita. Delighted, I thought, Oh, good. Now we’ll start seeing more Hispanic representation in speculative fiction. Well, not so much. It wasn’t until Junot Díaz won the Pulitzer in 2008 for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao that other Hispanics began to establish a presence in genre fiction. Now Daniel José Older and Carmen Maria Machado and a small horde of other Latin@ writers are gaining recognition, along with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement. I applaud and support their efforts.

The name on my driver’s license is Jenise Aminoff. It would be easy to just use that name. As some of my Clarion classmates have pointed out, it’s a great name for an SF author. It’s got “amino” in it, and it would get shelved right next to Asimov. But I’ve chosen to publish my first novel, A Witch’s Kitchen, using my middle name, Dianna, and my mother’s maiden name, Sanchez. Dianna Sanchez is as much me as Jenise Aminoff. Moreover, it’s a side of me that most people would never guess, unless they asked.

When I attended in Clarion in 1995, I really wanted to establish myself as a Hispanic SF writer. One of my admission stories was called “A Recipe for Martian Enchiladas” about Hispanic farmers on Mars. The story I have in the 2017 Young Explorers’ Adventure Guide, “Weeds,” can trace its convoluted ancestry to that admission story. In it, twelve-year-old Lupe, who was born on Mars, visits her family in New Mexico, where persistent drought destroyed all farming practice and where Lupe feels like an alien within her own family and culture. That was my own experience; Hispanic women aren’t supposed to study physics or write science fiction.

I have two daughters, and I want them to walk into the library and see Hispanic names on the shelves. I want them to find Hispanic characters in the books they read. I want that for all children, especially the ones who don’t ask questions, so that they’ll know that science fiction and fantasy is written by all kinds of people, anyone who dreams, anyone who asks those very important questions: “What if?” and “Why not?”


The 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide is an anthology of 24 science fiction short stories for middle grade readers. It’s currently on Kickstarter - you can back it here!  Find more information about Dianna’s debut novel, A Witch’s Kitchen at Dreaming Robot Press.


Official Author Website

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Dianna Sanchez is the not-so-secret identity of Jenise Aminoff, whose superpower is cooking with small children. She is an MIT alumna, graduate of the 1995 Clarion Workshop and Odyssey Online, active member of SCBWI, and former editor at New Myths magazine. Aside from 18 years as a technical and science writer, she has taught science in Boston Public Schools, developed curricula for STEM education, and taught Preschool Chef, a cooking class for children ages 3-5. A Latina geek originally from New Mexico, she now lives in the Boston area with her husband and two daughters.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"The Long Game: Fixer Series 2" by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)






Read FBC's Review of The Fixer Here 
Visit Jinnfer Lynn Barnes website Here 
 
OVERVIEW: The Kendricks help make the problems of the Washington elite disappear…but some secrets won’t stay buried.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington, D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can—and cannot—be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she's about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price.

FORMAT: The Long Game is the sequel to The Fixer. It is a contemporary YA political thriller. It stands at 360 pages and was published June 7, 2016 by Bloomsbury US Childrens.

ANALYSIS: Last year, The Fixer was a surprise find. It was thrilling, exciting, fast-paced and left me totally speechless. In fact, it was one of my favorite novels of 2015 even though it was technically a political thriller and not a genre I tend to gravitate towards. The Long Game is the long awaited sequel to The Fixer and it doesn't disappoint.

The Long Game starts with Tess being asked to help one of her fellow students run for student body president. This seemingly normal task is further complicated when an inappropriate photo appears of the candidate and Tess is left to sort out who took the photo, how it came to light, and whether or not it is real or a setup to get rid of the individual running for student body president.

While Tess is trying to lead a seemingly normal life as a teenager, other more complex issues start to arise. An attempted terrorist attack occurs at the local hospital and it appears as if Tess's guardian is in the midst of the scandal. Tess tries to stay out of it, but she gets dragged further and further into the complex world of politics when it appears as if her guardian is investigating a dangerous terrorist organization. What follows is a tale of political intrigue, mystery, and intense action.

The Long Game is very similar to The Fixer. The writing style of Jennifer Lynn Barnes makes it extremely easy to just jump into the novel and feel totally immersed. Even though it had been over a year since the first novel was published, it didn't feel like things missed a beat. It was really easy to catch up on past event (just enough info is provided to refresh your memory but not drag down the story) while also instantly connecting with the characters.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes does an amazing job – again – of creating a detailed political thriller. It wasn't so complex that readers got confused, but it wasn't overly predictable. There were plenty of times where I wasn't 100% certain where the story was going and just went along for the ride. After reading close to 200 books a year, it is hard to find books that are unpredictable, this one was.

One of the things that I liked about The Long Game was the opportunity to explore the relationship between Tess and her guardian. The Fixer introduced a lot of elements that complicated the relationship, but it wasn't really explored. The Long Game allowed readers to explore the relationship a little closer and get a better understanding of how Tess and her guardian interact, where things stand, and how they feel for each other.

I loved The Long Game. Things are a bit uncertain at the moment whether there will be a third book in the series, but I truly believe there is room for one. I would welcome a third book.

If you are looking for a fast-paced, action packed, well-thought out political thriller, The Long Game is the book for you. It is, in many ways, even better than the first novel – The Fixer.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

"The Gilded Cage" by Lucinda Gray (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)





OVERVIEW: 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?

FORMAT: The Gilded Cage is a standalone YA gothic historical fiction novel. It takes place in 1820s England.

The Gilded Cage stands at 245 pages and was published by Henry Hold and CO. (BYR) on August 2, 2016.

ANALYSIS: While sci-fi/fantasy is my go-to genre, I enjoy a good historical fiction novel every now and then. The Gilded Cage caught my attention with a mysterious gothic cover and a plot summary that seemed unique and intriguing. Unfortunately, looks – at least when it comes to the cover – can be deceiving.

There isn't anything particularly wrong with The Gilded Cage, but there isn't anything particularly spectacular either. Everything from the entire story and how it unfolded to the world-building and characters are just 'alright'. There isn't one thing in this novel that makes it stand out from other historical novels.

When I read books, especially historical fiction, I want to feel as if I am transported back in time. I want to feel like I am walking alongside the characters, experiencing their experiences. That didn't happen in The Gilded Cage.

Let's start with the characters. Our main character, Katherine, is a feisty 16 year old American who finds herself suddenly uprooted and living in 1820s England. She was forced to move from her farm in America after her and her brother inherited an entire estate in England a huge fortune.

There is a lot of potential with how Katherine could be portrayed, but she fell flat. This could be because the novel is written with a quick pace in mind, so there wasn't much time to develop our main character. Unfortunately, I just felt like Katherine was a vessel for the story and there wasn't enough time to form a connection.

Of course, main characters are sometimes only as good as their secondary character or sidekicks. There were a lot of secondary characters throughout The Gilded Cage, but they were one dimensional. If it had been a play, the characters would have run on stage, said a line or two, and walked off.

Most of the interactions with Katherine, our main character, and the secondary characters occurred 'off book'. For example, Katherine becomes really good friends – the 1820s – version of BFFs with a girl named Jane. There was one scene with Jane at a party, which was the first time they met, then all of a sudden they are BFFs and Jane is lending moral support and they are connected to each other.

Another example, Jane and Katherine have a huge fight that actually results in violence. Katherine leaves in a huff and Jane is totally upset. A few chapters later, Jane is back and supporting Katherine because they kissed and made up, only it never was shown to the reader at all. It was just 'well we made up, accept it and it happened off page'.

It was the use of these off scene interactions that made the book feel flat. It gave me the feeling as if I was an outsider who wasn't allowed to see the good parts of the show or something.

There is a romantic angle brought into Gilded Cage, but the lack of character development made it difficult to buy into the romance. Katherine practically insta-loves almost any man in the story. There is a farm boy in America, a handyman of sorts, a lawyer, and that is all in a 250 page book. The final romance came out of nowhere. There wasn't any sign that it was developing and before you know it, two characters who had a total of 4 interactions the entire story are proclaiming they love each other until the end of time.

Another topic that needs to be discussed is the plot. The entire story was predictable. I knew who did it, what they did, and why they did it about 20% to 30% into the novel. There was one tiny 'twist' about 80% into the novel, but it wasn't all that surprising. The only reason I was caught off guard by it was because I didn't think the novel would tackle such a thing so close to the end of the novel. (Note: Sorry for being vague, I don't want to give details because it is perhaps one of the one different aspects of the novel).

The final question to ask is 'was Gilded Cage bad'. No. Gilded Cage isn't a bad novel. It is, however, one that I would say is easily forgettable. There wasn't one thing that made it stand out from other novels. A little more character development and little more world building would have probably elevated this novel and made it more enjoyable.

Overall, Gilded Cage is a fast paced, standalone YA historical novel. If it seems interesting to you and you have some time to spare, I would say go for it and try it out. The writing is decent, it just doesn't have that it power to stand out from so many other amazing novels out there.

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