The Gilded Cage
by Lucinda Gray
Age Range: 12 - 18 years
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (August 2, 2016)
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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.The Randolph's lost their parents after moving to Virginia from England. Relying on the friendship of their neighbors they are able to maintain the ranch style living, the siblings are best friends. Very early in the story they find that their grandfather died after a sudden accident and had left Walthingham Hall to their father. Seeing this as the opportunity of a lifetime and pack up for the voyage oversees. The drastic change in their lives offer fancy living, parties and romance.
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?
Soon after their arrival Katherine's brother is found dead in the lake, but all of the information does not add up. The extended family that also lives in Walthingham pushes stories of a mysterious man the roams the yards and wild exotic animals on the loose. Being alone and on another continent away from all she has known Katherine does not know what to believe but is certain that the death was not a drowning, or caused by a wild animal.
I enjoyed the atmosphere of this historical mystery, being that the main character has been placed in this somewhat remote place and then immediately stripped of everything she's known.Wanting to trust her extended family and new friends of what could be happening she finds it hard to understand what could be happening. No matter how much she tries to understand everything, she'll witness weird behavior, whispering and missing items. Every time she feels she can trust somebody, new secrets arise, along with the death toll.
The book was a quick and mysterious read, There are several different ideas of what could be going on put into the readers mind, and it's a puzzle to try to put everything together and the possibilities are endless. I do not think at any time I really knew what was happening, even with my suspicions. I felt that one part of the story's plot was a little weak, but I loved everything else about it, great imagery and a dark, creepy story. It is a story that has stuck with me long after reading it and I am compelled to pick it up again for a second read. I recommend this one.