Title: The Gilded King
Author: Josie Jaffrey
Genre: Fantasy, dystopian, paranormal, YA
Published: 25th June 2018
Format: Ebook (ARC)
Acquired: Received from the author!
Rating: ★★★★☆ [3.5]
Goodreads Synopsis:: In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.
Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, a boy who believes in fairytales that Julia’s world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.
But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.
Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.
One way or another, the walls of the Blue are coming down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts on this book are my own!
Oh gosh, this is my first ARC I have been sent by an author! 🙂 The Gilded King sounded right up my street too, so I was excited to give it a try. I do have a soft spot for vampires so I was interested to see how this would work in a more dystopian-like setting. Although the author did offer me the chance to read this book before it’s official publication, all opinions in this review are 100% honest and my own!
Now, let’s get stuck in.
So, The Gilded King is the first book in Jaffrey’s new Sovereign series, but it takes place in the same world as her other series (Solis Invicti), although many years later. In The Gilded King, there are two zones in a post-apocalyptic world: The Blue and The Red. The Blue is a city safe from disease and contamination. Vampires are Nobles and rule society, keeping humans (their servants) safe. The fear of being in the dangerous Red, where death and contamination await you, leaves many in the Blue to like living under the Noble’s protection, even if they are chosen to give them their blood to survive.
In The Gilded King we follow two points of view: Julia in the Blue and Cameron in the Red. Julia is a human girl who is suddenly chosen to be the Attendent of a young Noble called Lucas. It is a not a role she originally wants, and she dreams of escaping the confines of the Blue and finding freedom (if possible) in the Red. However, certain events draw her closer to Lucas, while her suspicions about certain events within the city lead her to some drastic conclusions.
Cameron meanwhile, is part of the original elite group of Blue warriors, the Invicti, who is out searching the Red for Emmy, an important person who was kidnapped many years earlier. The Red is a dangerous place, and Cameron feels like it has sapped most of his humanity. However, a sudden lead in the hunt for Emmy brings Cameron to Felix, and a chain of revelations that could threaten his very home.
One thing I do want to point out before I get started with my thoughts on this book. The Gilded King is the first book I have read by Josie Jaffrey and so it is the first book I have encountered in the world she has constructed. I feel that you can start this series without reading any of her previous works and it still reads really well, but it wasn’t until after I finished this one and read the synopsis for A Bargain in Silver, that I realised Emmy is actually the main character in the Solis Invicti series! Part of me wonders if I would have had a greater understanding of Emmy’s importance earlier on in the book if I had read Jaffrey’s other books.
Anyway, despite this The Gilded King wasn’t a bad read at all! I’ll admit it was a bit of a slow start as I didn’t think anything happened in the first 30% of the book that felt like an interesting or key plot point? But once Cam got involved with Peterke and later Felix, the storyline became more interesting 🙂
The second half was much more dramatic, with a lot of reveals and action to keep things engaging. The intrigue of Emmy and what was happening in the Blue definitely kept me gripped towards the end, and there were certainly some shock surprises (yes, I’m talking about you, Felix, and even you, Emmy!)~
I did like the world and concept of this one too. I mean, vampires and zombies, in a dystopian world? That’s quite a cool mash-up 🙂 The Gilded King takes place in a post-apocalyptic world after the age of technology that we know of, and has instead reverted to a more traditional and off-grid way of life. I did feel that we were plonked in the middle of the world when reading this so you do end up finding more information about society and the world as you keep reading, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You were slowly given little tidbits about the Blue and the Red to help build up the world and give you background knowledge, so by the end you have quite a good idea about what’s going on 🙂 It did take a while for some things to sink in, though!
I also enjoyed the way vampires are portrayed in this one. There was still some variety between the Nobles and it was interesting to see how each personality type of vampire interacted throughout the book. The vampires weren’t portrayed as 100% superhuman monsters, nor were they sparkling love machines like some YA, haha! I quite liked it, although to be honest I am a sucker for vampires with personality in general!
In terms of the characters themselves, the points of view we had in The Gilded King were also an interesting experience for me. Both perspectives were written well and I did enjoy reading each storyline, so much so it was a bit bittersweet when I had to switch back to the alternate POV when the chapter ended! Each chapter was interesting enough, but one thing I did struggle with was that I couldn’t pinpoint a clear plot which reading. I couldn’t quite work out the relevance of certain events or if they were central to the plot or not, and I was also confused as to why we were following Julia and Cam’s characters at all. The two POVs didn’t link until right at the end, so it did feel like I was reading two separate stories at once. I’m sure this happens in other books (like GoT perhaps?) but it was a fairly new experience for me… and I’m not 100% convinced I like it. This is probably more of a personal reading preference though, just something I wanted to touch on!
Between the two points of view, I think Cam’s chapters were- or at least felt- longer and more developed than Julia’s. Cam’s did have a lot more action in it which helped, but I also felt his emotions and feelings were better constructed in his chapters. The best example of this is regarding romance. Cam’s feelings felt a bit more like a slow-burn, and were written in such a way that they were more believable.
Julia’s sections, on the other hand, were steered a bit more towards insta-love and felt a bit less developed in general. She is so, so, naïve and, despite some obvious feelings, I felt like she had no clue about anything?! It was a bit frustrating at times, yet underneath she does have quite a cool personality? I’d certainly like to read more about her: while her chapters did help provide some background information about Silvers and the Blue for new readers like me, I hope her views get a bit more focus and play a bigger role in the rest of the series!
Lucas was a sweetheart though ❤ I wish he was a bit more outspoken with his thoughts around Julia, but I still have a soft spot for him. I’m intrigued to see what the gentle flower will do in the rest of the series though, and see whether he leaves the Silvers or not.
From the Red, Cam was my favourite character. He was very switched on and I felt I could really understand everything that was happening around him. I just wanted things to go well for him! 🙂 And his link with Hades was SO good, haha!
Felix was also another interesting character. I had my suspicions from the get go, but I did like his relationship with Cam. Although I definitely didn’t predict his secret, I cant wait to see what will happen next~
Not only was this my first ARC from an author, but it was my first foray into the works of Josie Jaffrey, and I was pleasantly surprised! I can’t say I was 100% enthralled and I couldn’t quite pinpoint the link between Julia and Cam until the end, but this was still a good vampire dystopian read 🙂 There are certainly some cool reveals in this one, and I am intrigued about what is going to happen next in the series~
The Gilded King is actually published TODAY- June 25th, 2018– so if this sounds like your kind of book, give it a go! 🙂
Have you read this book yet? Have you tried any of Josie Jaffrey’s other books? Let me know in the comments!