The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey

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.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Publication Date: 25th June 2019

Page Count: 303 pages

Genre: Fantasy / Dystopian / Paranormal

Today, I am thrilled to share that I am taking part in another Write Reads’ Book Tour! The book I am reviewing is The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey. In exchange for an unbiased and honest opinion I was given a free e-copy of Jaffrey’s book.

The Gilded King

‘To the humans of the Blue, red was the colour of monsters.’

There was a time not too long ago where books and movies featuring vampires got the same, majority response: “Oh gosh, not another one.” Perhaps, this is still true today. Following successes such as Twilight, Vampire Academy, and The Mortal Instruments, an unbelievable amount of vampire-esque novels have pushed through, filling Young-Adult, fantasy literature with an abundance of choice. Undoubtedly so, it has made it more difficult for such books to shine through, shouting “I’m here too, read me!”, but I feel Jaffrey’s The Gilded King has the potential to stand out.

As the first of three in the Sovereign series, Jaffrey’s novel introduces vampires (“Silvers”) into a post-apocalyptic world – an interesting twist from the usual novel, as such creatures are often firmly set in the past or present day.

Published mid-2018, The Gilded King‘s setting is split between the Blue and the Red, the former a place of safety and servitude, the latter one of imminent danger. But as these areas slowly bleed into one another, it begs the question: is either what they truly seem?

Told through dual perspectives, we are introduced to Julia first. As a Server, she works for the Nobles (vampires who exchange protection in return for human blood). A supposed orphan – her parents known as traitors for venturing into the Red – she has no interest in becoming a Noble’s Attendant. Yet, one day, she is assigned to Lucas, a Noble with a different view on how their strict relationship should be. Unlike the others, he appears kind and thoughtful – however, such behaviours may spell trouble for them.

Contrasting Julia’s role as an Attendant in the Blue, we are also introduced (/ re-introduced) to Cameron, an Invicti who often spends time in the Red, searching for his long-lost friend. Driven almost mad by her loss, a new lead sends him far, and what he finds there is not only betrayal but a secret so hidden, he, himself, is shaken to the core.

Unlike some other reviews I have had the joy of reading, I do feel reading the prequel series would help when deciphering key words, characters and how such elements interact. With a whole prequel series already out there (the Solis Invicti series), I feel it would be an injustice not to recommend them first, especially as I feel it would help us connect better with reoccurring characters and pivotal elements more easily.

My usual critique stands: I feel certain characters fell into the insta-love trope (though, once again, I wish to reiterate this is more of a preference and did not put me off the story at all).

Overall, I believe this to be a solid foundation for her newest series, and I will likely continue reading until the end. The lore is strong, the characters fleshed out, and the plot intriguing to those who enjoy YA fantasy / paranormal.

About the author

Josie is the author of seven self-published novels plus short stories: the Solis Invicti series (paranormal romance), the Sovereign trilogy (YA fantasy) and Living Underground (a paranormal romance short story). She is currently working on a range of fantasy and historical fiction projects (both adult and YA), for which she is seeking representation. Ultimately, she hopes to be a hybrid author, both traditionally- and self-published.

After finishing her degree in Literae Humaniores (Classics) at the University of Oxford, Josie wasn’t sure what to do with her life. She slogged through a brief stint working for an investment bank in London during the 2008 credit crunch, then converted to law and qualified as a solicitor specialising in intellectual property. She worked at a law firm for five years before moving to a UK-based international publisher in 2016. Whilst she loved law, in the end she didn’t love it quite as much as writing, which she now does almost full time.

Josie lives in Oxford with her husband and two cats (Sparky and Gussie), who graciously permit human cohabitation in return for regular feeding and cuddles. The resulting cat fluff makes it difficult for Josie to wear black, which is largely why she gave up being a goth. Although the cats are definitely worth it, she still misses her old wardrobe.

When she’s not writing, Josie runs a book blog, The Gin Book Club, which posts monthly video reviews to YouTube. Her YouTube channel also hosts videos about Josie’s writing, including writing vlogs, book trailers and readings.

‘I have always written stories, but it wasn’t until I started the first book in the Solis Invicti series in 2014 that I really became obsessed with writing. I love to read, particularly where the escapism of the story is enhanced with an element of fantasy or science fiction. For me, writing is simply an extension of that journey, but I get to decide what happens next (though it’s amazing how often the characters seem to decide for themselves what I’m going to write!).’

Her website can be found here.

Her Twitter can be found here.

Her Instagram can be found here.

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