Cover Image: To Cage a God

To Cage a God

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Content Warnings: Torture, Burning Alive, Slavery, Child Abuse, Human Experimentation, Chronic Illness and Treatment, Self Harm / Cutting,

For those sex averse, all sex scenes are quick and not overly graphic. However, they are not always well-telegraphed and thus hard to know to skip.

Quick note: This book starts off like you’re reading a sequel, but it’s actually the first book in a series. This book is the second I’ve read recently with that feel, so I wanted to add an additional note for clarity.

I liked the overall vibe of this book, as it contained a mix of action, political intrigue, and mythological inspired world building; it’s also a little on the darker fantasy side, which I enjoy. I was interested in seeing how issues resolved, and I liked most of the characters.

However, for me there were too many characters to follow, with points of view switching constantly. These are all clearly labeled when they happen, but it was a lot to balance. The pacing was likewise unbalanced. The buildup was too slow, and the resolution too quick.

The book has two romances, one lesbian and one hetero. I thought both were simply okay. The lesbian romance felt more in character and developed than the hetero romance, which had the misfortune of the characters being more interesting outside of their relationship than in it.

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Best book I've read in a long, long time. Sera and Galina were wonderful protagonists dealt a terrible hand in life. Each character written was well written and a delight to witness in the story, and watching them explore the relationships with their "Gods" was riveting. Seriously the best fantasy I've read.

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I struggled to get into this one. It felt as though the author was trying too hard to describe everything, even things that really didn't need describing, and this distracted me from the world building and character development.

When things were more established, I became a bit more invested in the characters and their story. I liked some of the themes that were explored especially those around the negative stigmas towards chronic illness.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read but I'm not sure how quickly I will be reaching for the sequel.

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I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for allowing me to read a copy of this book.

To Cage a God is an adult romantic fantasy (romantasy) novel, purported for fans of Fourth Wing and Shadow and Bone. As one of the millions of people who loved Fourth Wing, I was intrigued by the premise of this book. The plot is inspired by Imperial Russia with themes of draconic gods, political revolutions, and deadly magical power.

The main characters in the book are two sisters, Galina and Sera, who each house a violent god inside of them (as a result of their mother’s horrific experimentation on them as children). They can access their gods’ powers, but there is an ever-increasing cost. They were raised to be weapons in a revolution, but are on a mission of their own Rebellion (or die trying).

The magical system in the book is unique, and there is a constant theme of hero/anti-hero, infiltration, and trying to overthrow the ruling class. There was some romance in the book, but it seemed secondary to everything else. I liked the story, the characters, the dramatic imagery, and the pacing of the book, and considered it fun and interesting read. It

If you are a fan of dragon-themed romance and or fantasy, then I definitely recommend this book. It was good, but romantasy is not my favorite genre.

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DNF at 26% - I tried to read this book. I really did. But if after 3 months I still can't bring myself to read it and I'm already a fourth of the way through I don't see it getting much better from here. I didn't feel any real connection to any of the characters and none of what they were doing seemed important, which I think should have been established well before the point I gave up.

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To Cage a God by Elizabeth May is an accurate blend of Shadow and Bone and Fourth Wing complete with a soft, sapphic romance, and m/f enemies-to-lovers storyline set in an Imperial Russia-inspired world. I’m a sucker for anything sapphic so this was a book I was excited to grab!

It took some time to jump into this one (mood reader problems), but once I did, I was hooked. I ended up absolutely adoring these characters. The sibling relationship between Sera and Galina contrasted well with the romantic elements, and I love how each partnership had its own flavor.

Sera has a romantic past with a fugitive who enjoys blowing things up, and now he’s locked in a violent plot to bring down the palace, the same palace her sister Galina has infiltrated.

Galina forms a connection with the princess of the palace, who has isolated herself from the rest of the world (including her mother). Unlike the tense relationship between Sera and Vitaly, Galina and Vasilisa form a tentative bond that tranforms into a cute relationship.

If you’re a romantasy fan, To Cage a God offers a fresh, fast-paced, and endearing experience that will leave you wanting more.

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As soon as I spotted this book, I knew I wanted it. The cover was captivating, the title intriguing, and the summary promised a story I'd enjoy. Plus, learning that one of the main characters deals with chronic pain made me even more eager to dive in.

Luckily, DAW hooked me me up with a review copy through Netgalley, so I didn't have to wait. yay.

But maybe I set my hopes too high. I thought I'd fly through it, but finishing was tougher than expected. It wasn't the writing; that flowed fine, and the chapters were a good length. But there was something missing.

The world-building and mythology didn't quite hit the mark for me. Despite mentions of other places and conflicts, I struggled to fully picture the world or understand the kingdom's position. The mythology seemed interesting, but I felt like I only got a glimpse of its potential depth.

Connecting with the characters was tricky too. They all seemed to have secrets or hidden identities, which made it hard to really root for them. While I get why that's part of the plot, it made it tough to get emotionally invested.

Even though it didn't quite hit home for me, I'm sure plenty of readers will love it.

It just wasn't my cup of tea.

Thanks to NetGalley and DAW for providing me the review copy!

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the power of a god into their bones and raised them to one day overthrow the tyrannical nobles. Now adults, Galina concocts a plan to infiltrate the palace and dismantle the government from within. However, when she falls for the isolated princess Vasilisa, she finds herself caught between torn loyalties.

To Cage a God by Elizabeth May weaves a Slavic godpunk fantasy inspired by the Russian revolution.

At first glance, the basic premise of caging dragon gods and harnessing their powers sounded really interesting and had so much potential, but unfortunately, the execution of the story itself fell flat.

Now, I’m a sucker for a good fantasy romance, but the romance here felt more at odds with the plot than an enhancement of it—undermining any sense of stakes or urgency. For instance, in one of the opening scenes, readers are repeatedly told that Galina’s life is somehow on the line, yet all consideration for her sister’s life goes out the window when Sera spies her ex-lover, Vitaly, and decides to ogle him instead. She also is way too quick to forgive him after (view spoiler)

Overall, the characters didn’t feel believable to me and come across as too juvenile for an adult fantasy. I really found it hard to root and care for the main sisters when they so easily forget each other and their own revolutionary cause.

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It pains me to be writing a critical review of a book I eagerly anticipated. Elizabeth May’s To Cage a God promised so many things on paper: complicated enemies-to-lovers relationships, Six of Crows but make it even darker vibes, and an intriguing (and metal) sounding magic system comprised of caging dragons inside one’s literal bones. What I got, was, generously, a shallow and diluted version of the aforementioned elements that left me disappointed.

To start with what I did enjoy—and the only reason I kept reading—was the sapphic relationship that develops between Galina and another character later in the novel. This relationship is one of the only ones I found believable. It added depth to both characters involved and explored a more robust emotional landscape than most characters got to explore.

Even still, it fell prey to what I’ve sadly come to expect from women-loving-women relationships depicted in fiction, which is sexual chemistry and desire taking a backseat to less explicit elements such as romantic connection. This in and of itself is not a problem; fade-to-black scenes are great and exist to be enjoyed by readers and employed by authors for various reasons. There is at least one open-door scene as well. However, when you also have a parallel M/F romance in the same book where the characters are unrepentant in their horniness for each other and every other encounter is an explicit sex scene, it does tend to highlight this discrepancy in neon lights.

Speaking of the M/F romance in this novel… It was not for me, to put it mildly. Sera, who the novel takes great pains to depict as a stone-cold badass, gradually loses her entire personality to her insufferable lover, right down to the very magic in her bones. Her love interest embodies every arrogant, selfish, amoral trope you expect of aggressively heternormative romance heroes and shows barely an iota of true consideration for Sera, opting instead to put the emotional labour of making her his ‘moral compass’ on her amongst other actions I found hard to stomach. The dynamic of two estranged partners with opposing political goals is a dynamic I usually love, but no amount of them pulling knives on each other could save this one for me.

The characters all around in this novel fell flat on their face for me. Everyone felt like a caricature, from the mustache-twirling primary antagonist to the participants in the cut-and-paste BookTok exes-to-morally-dubious-situationship romance. The novel did not sell me on anyone’s motivations. Characters mostly seemed to act in service of a defined role or plot device than acting like people, which, as a reader who is primarily character-driven, means I was probably destined not to enjoy this.

The setting and political intrigue were impacted by the issue of character work. It made it so the stakes—which should have been high, what with all the death and trauma and mayhem—lost a lot of their meaning. I also just wanted more worldbuilding in general. The coolest fantasy elements, namely the magic system, were mostly a prop to justify how extra horrible the ruling class is in the novel despite several PoV characters having access to said magic system.

In an oversaturated romantasy market, To Cage a God offers little innovation to the Imperial Russia setting and even less character depth and development, particularly regarding the multiple romances involved. Though I’ve enjoyed some of May’s other work and plan to keep an eye on future releases, I won’t be continuing with this duology and don’t recommend it.

Thank you to DAW and NetGalley for an advance review copy. All opinions are my own.

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Set in a fantasy world similar to a revolutionary Russia, two women hold power thanks to their mother, who grafted gods to their bones. Heading up a rebellion, Galina, one of the sisters, infiltrates the palace to bring the ruling family down from the inside; Sera, the other sister, reunites with her former lover who also leads the rebellion.

This moved slower than I was expecting, and it was a bit of a slog to get through. There were moments of action that sparked me, but the worldbuilding was a bit overwrought and the characters got lost.

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Thank you to DAW and NetGalley for an ebook in exchange for an honest review!

I am always a fan of russian inspired stories and this was a pretty good one to add to the category! This story toed the line between fantasy and romantasy and was done pretty well while combining the feel of Russian history and politics. This was a very quick read and easy to digest.

The story, the concepts, the world, the characters were all interesting! Truly they were wonderful. My biggest gripe with this book, however, some of the pacing of the plot itself. But Kim, you just said it was a quick read! And easy to digest! Well it was, but there were times where the plot seemed to take a back seat to the romance. the balance wasn't quite there. Not a deal breaker, but it was just one thing I found myself slightly annoyed with.

Anyway, overall, this was enjoyable! I am interested in seeing what happens in the next book.

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wayy too many tropes and cliques. The author put more effort it seems into making this book "quoteable" than anything else.

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To cage a god- 2.75⭐️ 3.5🌶️

Adult fantasy
Sapphic
30yo characters
Multi POV
Morally grey characters
Hidden identity
Dragons
Mythical beasts
Russian influence
Revolution
Alcoholism rep
Ptsd rep
Chronic illness/disability rep

Tw: self harm/cutting, suicide, murder, gore, death, emotional abuse, alcoholism, eugenics

I love the premise of this story! Commoners have unwilling dragon gods caged inside of them, something reserved for royalty, for a rebellion.

The entry into this story was abrupt, making it hard to connect to the main characters because we were dropped into the very middle of most of the character’s stories. but I just found it hard to feel caught up. I even was a kid fascinated by the Russian Revolution and the last tzar of Russia… and so much of the plot mirrored those true events.

The characters were flushed out well, for the most part. And the banter was good.

I found the magic system to be really interesting in how different magic manifested depending on which dragon god was caught.

The pacing wasn’t great, with the abrupt and slow start and rushed ending.

The spicy scenes didn’t feel as natural as I prefer. The timing of these scene was really NOT great.

Thank You Netgalley and DAW Books for an eARC of this book. All opinions are my own.

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First, I had high hopes for this book : Russian inspired but not another myth retelling, dark fantasy, reluctant main character, sapphic, morally grey characters, revolution... All things that I LOVE.

The background is quite interesting, Revolutionary Russia inspired, eat the rich and all. But it lacked nuance, and while it had it's poetic and blurbable moments it always felt like it was trying too much for the punch line. It read like new adult romantasy more than adult dark fantasy and it's okay, love that for the book and I think it will perform well but it wasn't what I was expecting and what I personally like.

I love a good morally grey love interest, don't usually care for budding romance so Sera's storyline should have been great but fell short and I became overly uninterested and she got more and more annoying. The sapphic slow burn was absolutely brilliant but... I think I underestimated how this book relied heavily on the romance. It's still quite action packed at moments but felt inconsistent.

Really I would have loved to love this book, and it still has a lot of great things to offer. I do think it's a step up for Fourth Wing reader and the perfect read for them, with the complex romance and a way better and more unique worldbuilding. If you've loved Fourth Wing you will LOVE To Cage a God : two very different types of romance to please everybody, great rep, action, and original worldbuilding.

3,5/5

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To Cage a God initially had the potential to be a strong 3-star read for me, however issues I had with it only worsened as the plot progressed. The characters are uniformly underdeveloped - Sera in particular seemed to gradually lose all aspects of her personality other than her attraction to Vitaly (and it certainly didn't help that I found him insufferable). I found myself rolling my eyes frequently during their chapters. I felt actively frustrated every time the alternating POV chapters would return to the straight romance, the dynamic of which is perhaps an acquired taste, especially when we were in an otherwise fast-paced section.
That said, I felt a lot more engaged with the burgeoning interactions between Galina and Vasilisa - the slow gaining of their trust for each other, and their shared experience of trauma, made for a relationship which felt more real. I could understand their attraction to each other, and their actions showed the level of care they obviously felt as the novel progressed.
To Cage a God has an intriguing premise, although as with the characters it is underdeveloped - there are many aspects of the world-building which are vague or unexplained, leading to an at times incoherent plot.
I enjoyed the start of this novel a lot more than the latter half, where I found myself skim-reading some chapters (and especially the lengthier romantic scenes). The ending leaves space for a sequel, however I unfortunately am unlikely to continue with the series if it arises. I am sure that for some readers this will be an instant hit - the writing speeds along, and there's a good mix of action and interpersonal relationships - but it was sadly not for me.

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I forgot to leave a review for this, but I really enjoyed it! It's been out for ages, so I won't say much more than I need to for my star rating. <3

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I was extremely excited to read this book, but unfortunately it just didn’t feel as fleshed out for me as it could have been. I wanted more from the lore and the characters. I enjoyed the idea of the magic system and I appreciated the representation of chronic pain, but overall I just wanted more.
Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced readers copy.

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Thank you to DAW and Netgalley for sending me an early copy of this book! All opinions are my own!

Oh my goodness, I have been looking for a new fantasy world to get absolutely immersed in, and this was everything I have been searching for and so much more. It was hard to get into at first because of the complexities of the world, but the characters absolutely reeled me in, and once I got the hang of everything, I needed more and more to feed my soul.

The romances are so different yet somehow both so perfect? Do not get me started with my obsession for Vitaly. I will never recover from my love for him. But then the sweetness of the other romance? (I shall refrain from spoilers but AHHHH). They both fed everything my hopeless romantic heart needed in life, and I will forever adore them. If they are hurt, I will riot.

And then there's the disability rep! I was not expecting it, but it was so beautifully done! From the self-consciousness to finding yourself and your strength through the pain - just yes! I loved the way it was all incorporated into so many aspects of the story.

I absolutely cannot wait to see where this story goes. Get your hands on this dragon book now! You don't want to miss out!

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For how fast paced this book was I wanted to dnf so bad from boredom.

Characters: 1/5
Plot: 1.5/5
Rep: 4/5
Spice: 1/5

Galina and Sera are adopted commoner sisters with gods living inside of them. Sera's mother caged the gods into them when they were children even though only royalty is supposed to get a "dragon." Their only goal is to overthrow the current regime and free the people from the tyrant queen.

I didn't care about any of the characters, probably because their back stories are just glossed over. The book is all telling and no showing. There are tons of plot holes and nothing is planned out. The sisters just throw themselves into the middle of everything and then follow through on nothing.

Galina was supposed to be trying to find a way to kill the queen, but she just spent the whole book making googly eyes at the princess, Vasilisa. For trying to be a slow burn enemies to lovers relationship it was insta-love at its worst. Vasilisa hates her mom which is completely understandable, but I don't think it's reason enough to immediately forgive Galina for hiding her true intentions the whole book. There was no tension between the two at all. It was very surface level and lust to love.

Meanwhile, Sera and Vitaly's relationship is just a mess. It's pure miscommunication and Vitaly has to be one of the weakest MCs I've ever read. He hates everyone unless Sera tells him not to. They're back and forth the whole book even though they have the same goals. The relationship has no depth because all we get are brief flashbacks of them meeting, and then her monologue about how she married him even though shes been keeping secrets from him the whole time and she can't be around him now. Why marry him in the first place if you couldn't trust him?!?

Everything is resolved quickly at the end except for the fact that no one stopped to think about the war going on and how they just left their whole country defenseless.

I will not be reading the next book.

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I received and advanced reading copy from Netgally via the publisher though all thoughts are my own.

This book had an interesting concept that was heavily inspired by Imperial Russian history mixed with Slavic folklore and a heavy dash of fantasy. The rich people are called alureans that have Gods with powers from another world (known as zmei) that appear to have been from birth though the actual origins of these Gods and how they came to be in human bodies has been hard to learn of because that information was destroyed due to paranoia of the Higher Class that those they considered beneath them would find out and get their own power. AT least that is what appears to have been much of the reasoning.

Told from the points of view of Sera, Katya, Vitaly, Galina and Vasilisa, they each have an important role to play though none of them is for sure what those roles will be and how they will play out.

There is also a revolution on the rise as people getting fed up with being barred from speaking their native language, having the alureans rub their wealth in the faces of those they deem below them and there's also a tyrant of a ruler known as the Empress who also happens to be Vasilisa's Mother who used to be a decent person but after years of abuse from her husband and then becoming power hungry as she became the ruler, she's turned into someone who is much worse that her husband. There's a match that's just waiting to be lit and someone who seems like the least unlikely to help may very well surprise a number of people.

In the midst of all that's happening, there's also two romances. One (a male/female relationship) is a reuniting of two people who are drawn to each other (Vitaly and Sera) and have been through a lot over the years and I think it rather romantic that Vitaly was determined to search for Sera when she disappeared for a while and then was able to find her back in the area where their love started. Sera however has been keeping secrets to protect her foster sister Galina and also in a way to protect Vitaly. Though Vitaly doesn't really need protection as he's able to survive just fine so long as he's not trying to blow things up and is for sure a morally gray character who also happens to believe that he's helping to stop the oppression to his people that the Empress and her Cronies have forced on citizens.

The other romance is one that's brewing between Galina and Vasilisa (female/female relationship) who come from such different levels of society and yet they each have their own cages in a sense and expectations from loved ones that are nearly impossible to accomplish. Though I seriously doubt that the Empress actually knows what it's like to love anyone other than herself.

Overall, this was an interesting book and while it had a slow start, I think that was mostly my brain trying to get a feel of the world and I felt as though I had been dropped into the middle of a brewing revolution that I needed some time to wrap my head around. I appreciated that one of the characters is someone who has to deal with chronic pain and how it's slowly becoming more main stream to have characters with chronic pain in books. I'm looking forward to continuing this series and maybe even delving deeper into the mystery of how the zmei became trapped in human bodies to begin with.

Content warnings: eugenics practice, ableism, a character with chronic and disability who is forced to keep her illness away from the public, self-harm to have access to a God's powers, violence, murder, immolation, explosions, injuries, gore, death, alcoholism, suicide, stabbing (self-inflicted and not), cutting, emotional abuse, manipulative relationships (parental), self-medication, eugenics, frank depictions of living with chronic pain, PTSD, other possible triggers so please be aware.

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