Format: Hardcover 256 pages
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
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?
The Gilded Cage is a standalone novel set both in Virginia, and England in the 1820's. 16-year old Katherine Randolph and her older brother George are living the quiet life on a farm in Virginia where they reside with their foster parents who have raised them since their parents passed away. Katherine meets a man named Edward Delaney who is looking for George. Herman claims that the siblings lives as they know it, are about to fundamentally change after a Grandfather they never knew about passes away and leaves behind a fortune to them.
Four weeks later, Katherine and George arrive in England and are taken to Walthigham Hall where cousins Grace and Henry have been overseeing the day to day operations. This allows the siblings to get better acclimated to the fact that they are now insanely rich. They are expected to ingrain themselves into the Gentry society of England which means parties, and being eventually matched to be married. As the primary heir, George loves to paint. So much so that his works are eagerly sought out.
But, after George mysteriously drowns, Katherine is left as the solo heir. She is supposed to have a period of mourning, but starts to believe the rumors about the beast of Walthingham, and that George didn't accidentally drown. He was actually murdered. On the same scale, Katherine is expected to move on quickly from her brothers death since the cousins have already decided that they have better things to do then wait for Katherine's mourning period to end.
Katherine is perfectly set up for the time period by author Lucinda Gray. It is a society and era in which women aren't allowed to have titles to their own land or even emotions when they lose a loved one. They are expected to be handled by men, and men do all the heavy lifting as it were. If they show any sort of emotional turmoil, or turn down unwanted marriage proposals, they are quickly given medicine or are sent away to an asylum where they will most likely never again be seen or heard from again.
Katherine is a bit on the curious side which sends her down a dangerous path that allows others to twist her life in ways they deem prudent. Katherine, thanks to the brilliant assistance from William Simpson, a lawyer that has handled her families business, ends up deep in a mystery that is as twisted as the setting this story is set against. There are dual instances of romance in this book. One is perhaps the most innocent since Katherine and this character have a lot in common. Yet, because of the insanity from other secondary characters, Katherine finds herself in another romance with Simpson who is a bit like the eager scientist who bumbles and fumbles his way into the heroine's heart.
Since the book is slightly over 200 pages, the story moves along quickly, while leaving all sorts of curious questions for the readers to guess what happens next.