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The Gilded Cage by Lynette Noni – ARC Review!

Kiva trades one cage for another when she leaves behind a deadly prison for a deceptive palace in this dark and dangerous sequel to The Prison Healer, which Sarah J. Maas called “a must-read.”

Kiva Meridan is a survivor.

She survived not only Zalindov prison, but also the deadly Trial by Ordeal. Now Kiva’s purpose goes beyond survival to vengeance. For the past ten years, her only goal was to reunite with her family and destroy the people responsible for ruining their lives. But now that she has escaped Zalindov, her mission has become more complicated than ever.

As Kiva settles into her new life in the capital, she discovers she wasn’t the only one who suffered while she was in Zalindov—her siblings and their beliefs have changed too. Soon it’s not just her enemies she’s keeping secrets from, but her own family as well.

Outside the city walls, tensions are brewing from the rebels, along with whispers of a growing threat from the northern kingdoms. Kiva’s allegiances are more important than ever, but she’s beginning to question where they truly lie. To survive this time, she’ll have to navigate a complicated web of lies before both sides of the battle turn against her and she loses everything.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’m just gonna start by saying Noni must reallly hate her readers to keep leaving us with killer cliffhangers like the one in this book. If you thought book one’s was bad then be sure to brace yourself. After managing to free herself from Zalindov, Kiva is determined to find her family and start enacting her plan to re take the throne. But things are never quite as easy as they seem. The more time she spends with Jaren, the more she can’t deny her growing feelings. She doesn’t want to betray him or his family, but her brother and sister are relying on her, even if Kiva thinks they’re not telling her the whole truth. Alliances are forged and deceptions are brought to life but before long she will have to decide between the family we get through blood, and the one we get to choose.

I seriously loved Kiva’s character growth in this book. She ended book one so determined to help the rebel cause, to find her brother and sister and do what she could to help them to take the throne back. But the more time she spends in the palace with Jaren and his family, treating her like one of them, like a friend, the more she realises that they aren’t the ‘bad’ people she always believed them to be. She start’s to question her decision, and spends a good portion of the book split between wanting to help her family, and not wanting to betray the people she is coming to care for. She’s fierce and unwilling to bend in so many ways, but she’s also still the girl who longs to be accepted by the family she hasn’t seen in years, no matter the cost.

Similar to the first book, Noni treats us to a stand out cast of side characters. Some making a reappearance from book one, and others that are new to this book. My favourites being Caldon and Tor. Caldon is Jaren’s cousin and the person who pretended to be him in book one. I really enjoyed seeing the progression of his relationship with Kiva and, although not romantic, it seems like the author focused more on furthering this relationship than that of Kiva and Jaren. He know’s how to rile her up, but is also one of the few people she can trust with her truth, something that Kiva has spent a long time looking for. Tor is Kiva’s brother, the sibling she was the closest too growing up and I’ll admit to getting a little emotional at their reunion scene. His heart isn’t 100% in the rebel cause but, like Kiva, he has a loyalty to his family that is hard to shake. We also meet Kiva’s sister Zuleeka who I had a, let say, more complicated relationship with. She’s a little more held back than Tor, keeps a lot of things close to her chest and I just never quite trusted her throughout the whole book.

The Gilded Cage was the perfect sequel and middle book to this duology. With the first book being set solely in Zalindov prison we lacked a little of the world building that I love when reading, something the author gave us in spades with this book. I thoroughly enjoyed going with Kiva on her little escapades throughout the Capitol and the towns surrounding it, and enjoyed learning more about the political climate of the world, through Kiva’s information gathering. Though there was still plenty of action and plot twists this book was a little quieter than the first, we got plenty of small and quiet moments between all the characters which I loved, and really helped with the character growth. It was the perfect set up to what I’m sure will be a firework filled final instalment.

Now for the romance, I loved Jaren and Kiva’s relationship in the first book and it was just as slow burn and tension filled in this. Their scenes together were brilliantly written and went to show just how much Jaren cared for her, that he never tried to make the Palace another prison, giving her free reign as well as his utter trust, but I do feel like it took a bit of a back burner to the other relationships in Kiva’s life. We get to see more of her relationship with Caldon ( love triangle haters fear not, it’s absolutely platonic), as well as diving into the complicated relationship between her and her siblings. I really think the author balanced all the relationships really well, new and old, and though I loved the scenes between Kiva and Jaren, I also found myself longing for the more ‘friendly’ ones.

I mentioned it above but, although I did have a good guess as to how the book would end, Noni still managed to throw a whole bunch of spanners in the works that ensured the ending was still a surprise… and what an ending it was. Action packed, plot twist filled and a cliffhanger worse than book one. I’m seriously looking forward to getting my hands on book three, if only to make sure all my faves are safe! If fast paced fantasy is your style, with slow burn romance and brilliantly written characters then this is the series for you.

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