Gilded Cage by Vic James

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts, #1)Given a choice, would you rather do 10 years of service in the lap of luxury or in filth and hunger? Hint, they are both bad choices. How about not doing the 10 years of service? Oh, that’s too radical. Slavery mixed in with laptop computers and a Rolls Royce? Oh, that’s not weird at all. Perfectly normal, folks, move along…

London, and the world, is divided between the haves and have nots, the magically powered Equals and the commons. Equals with whom, you might ask? Consider that the actual terms for the British Parliament are Houses of Peers and Commons. Peers and Equals with each other, not the *sniff* ordinary folks.

The prologue tells us that a nice cushy job can leave a Nice Girl [tm] stuck with a baby but no rich husband, and escaping leads to death. Opening information lets us know that 10 years of hard labor can maim or kill someone. Abi tries to get her family into 10 years service at a rich Equal’s house, which should be safer for them. Luke doesn’t want to think about it yet, he’s still 3 months too young to start his labor.

The limo comes to pick up Abi, her parents, and little sister Daisy – but not Luke. For perfectly reasonable rich people reasons, he’s not allowed to do his 10 years at their house, and he starts his 10 years by getting beaten up for insisting that he is too young to get in the van on his own, without his parents. Rules, yeah. They always work as designed, to protect the workers.

Abi and Luke work in two different words, she in luxury, he in physical and chemical danger. Abi thinks she can keep her family apart – but money changes things. Luke thinks he has nothing, only to find that he has plenty to fight for.

Lords want to keep their power, except for some radicals who think the 10 years service is basically slavery and should be outlawed – after all, other countries manage without it. Other Lords can’t imagine such a radical step. The commoners who are working toward this radical goal are obviously terrorists who have to be eliminated with extreme prejudice. Several Lords are secretive, either because they are working quietly toward this freedom thing, or because they have goals of their own.

After many entertaining (to the reader, poor family!) plot twists, the family reunites, with further disastrous results.

I must have the sequel, right now. Sadly, it hasn’t been written yet. *pout*

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