Well this really rather good. Not what I expected, and perhaps all the better for it.
Gilded Cage takes lots of familiar concepts and smushes them together to build a dystopian modern-day Britain where class is defined by magic. You have it and are Equal, or you don't - and you're not. Those without Skill are obliged to surrender ten years in slavery in what are effectively Victorian workhouses with modern machinery or in service at one of the Downton-a-like estates of the Equals (glittering, self-absorbed and often malicious).
Two teenage siblings lose their illusions as one is consigned to Kyneston, home to the all-powerful Jardines, and the other is sent to the hell of Millmoor. But a resistance is rising within its grimy streets. Can hope and trust overcome magical Skill? Will the Equals close ranks - or be torn apart by their own merciless politics?
This is an excellent debut, and I was quickly drawn in - although I'll admit to liking the secondary characters far more than protagonists Abi and Luke Hadley.
Expect to finish it with a burning wish to get your hands on the sequel. Full review
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.