ARC Review: THE GILDED CAGE by Lynette Noni

I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in white on black with blurred
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 1 star
Series: yes - second book in trilogy



Title in blue on black above dagger and entwined flowers and gold vines

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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I forced myself to the end of this book, mainly because I wanted to know if my predictions about what would happen were correct. They were.

The issue I had was that the central conflict (Kiva’s family are rebels but she’s in love with the crown prince) didn’t have any real ground to stand upon, because there was nothing supporting WHY Kiva’s family should get the throne. Her grandmother summed it up perfectly:

You plan to follow blindly in your family’s ill-fated footsteps, seeking to steal a throne that you believe is yours for no other reason than a diluted bloodline.

An old blood claim – that’s literally ALL their reasoning for why they should be on the throne. Oh, sure they have a few personal grievances, but there’s never any proof that the royals are bad rulers. Half the rebels are vaguely mentioned “malcontents” (without a reason why they’re angry) and the others, we’re somehow expected to believe, are fanatics annoyed by the toppling of this family’s ancestor several hundred years before.

If there was some mention of bad rulership or tax issues or a famine or literally any of the issues that could cause someone to be angry with a ruler, then I might have felt that the rebels had a foot to stand upon. But they didn’t, and the book goes out of its way to show that these are good rulers (so that Kiva’s torn and made to rethink) so I could not believe that there was a big enough rebel movement. It just wasn’t believable.

Plus, her brother’s OK, but her sister is a horrid piece of work. And they’ve all abandoned her for a decade, so her love seemed excessive, and just there to give her a reason to work for the rebels. In short, the premise was flimsy and all designed to set up a conflict of loyalties that I could not believe for one minute as it lacked any sort of justification.

The story itself is so predictable. On page five, I made a bet with myself about how it would all turn out, and I was completely and utterly correct. It’s the middle book of a trilogy, so you know it’s going to end with Kiva deciding her family are wrong and that the current royals should have the throne, but she’s going to be revealed when her family win – and win because of her (thus adding betrayal and romantic angst to the next book.)

The major problem with this is the decisions she makes that gets to that state are stupid. It felt like she was only making them because she knew what plot points had to happen. “Oh no, I’ve decided that I won’t betray the royals and my family are wrong, but immediately after this decision, I’m still going to tell them the exact thing they need to win.”

Read my reviews of other books by Lynette Noni:

The Prison Healer (this series):

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