“Gilded Cage” by Vic James
In this alternate reality world, Luke and his family are part of the commoners, or those who do not have special mind control powers. Those who have the powers are called Equals, and they rule the land as members of a powerful aristocracy. All commoners are required to spend 10 years of their life in slavery to the Equals. Some do their years as soon as they are able, while others wait until the end of their lives to serve their time. No matter when it happens, those 10 years are not pleasant, and many die while most come back broken and unstable.
Luke’s sister finds a way for all of them to serve their years together in what will hopefully be a fairly peaceful estate. But all her planning is for naught, and Luke is separated from his family and sent to another slave holding. What he learns there will take him on the path to rebellion and a sacrifice for his family.
This was a very unique turn to an otherwise common story. The introduction of mandatory slavery for commoners set up the communities for an aggressive slave rebellion, but those in power have ultimate control, making it almost impossible for those without to have any affect on society. A great new read for those who like dystopian novels, but a little graphic for younger readers.
“Brisk plotting, sympathetic characters, and plenty of intrigue will keep readers on the edges of their seats, eager for the next book in a very promising series.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An alternate modern-day England where enticing drama and social unrest mix with aristocratic scandal and glamorous magic . . . conjuring up the specters of Les Misérables and Downton Abbey . . . an absorbing first installment that presages an intriguing new fantasy series.”—Kirkus Reviews