Cover Image: To Cage a God

To Cage a God

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To Cage a God by Elizabeth May is a wonderful compliment to Hannah Whitten's For the Wolf/For the Throne and Kathrine Arden's The Bear and The Nightingale.

We follow Galina and Sera, two sisters who are tasked with taking down the gods who rule their people. The story is beautiful with vivid storytelling and characters you root for the whole time. I recommend this book to people who are interested in Eastern European folklore and storytelling.

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Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you, NetGalley and publishers.

To Cage a God is a romantasy inspired by Slavic, Eastern European fairy tales and folklore, perfect for readers who love Sarah J. Maas or Rebecca Yarros. Centuries ago, the nobility had discovered a way to cage dragons in their own bodies and use those dragon’s abilities to oppress the normal humans who live a miserable existence at the whims of the nobles. This is the story of two sisters in more than blood who have found their own truest loves and a reason to live.

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WOW! I would define it a mix of grimdark and romantic fantasy set in world with slavic elements.
Gripping, twisty and fast paced. War and love, two strong and very powerful sisters, archaic gods.
There's a lot to love and I can't wait to read the next book in this duology
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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Sisters with god-like powers thanks to a special bone-grafting done by their mother are destined to overthrow an empire. The first in this dark fantasy duology will land with those who enjoy their romantasy with darkness and violence.

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I was very curious to read this title because the premises are really captivating but unfortunately the reading didn't go as I hoped.

This book has so much potential but it is not being exploited.
The setting is rich, vivid and fascinating but everything remains very superficial and at times confusing.

Unfortunately, the story sometimes gets lost in useless resolutions and filler scenes that slow down the pace and honestly bored me a bit.
Even the characters don't shine and it's a real shame.

I really expected something more!

Thanks Netgalley e the publisher for the e-ARC!

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I wanted so badly to love this one. The cover is stunning and the summary sounds absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me.

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Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an electronic copy of To Cage a God.

I really enjoyed this one! I found all of the characters compelling, the magic system interesting, and boy was I rooting for the romantic relationships involved. The writing itself was lovely, and while I found the pacing slow at times, I don't think that it took much of my enjoyment away while reading but I did find myself skimming some of the longer worldbuilding sections.

Overall, very enjoyable, great LGBTQ+ and disability rep, and interesting plot!

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I really enjoyed this book. I think it was well written and I was attached to the characters. My only issue is that some of the story didn’t like up and make it confusing to follow.

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4.5 ⭐️s
Oh man! This is an EPIC story! Imperial Russia, Fantasy, Dark romance?!!! Wow! I could not put it down! That ending though!!
Following through 2 different romances, epic world building and the characters that just jump off the page.
There are something I hope we get more of, more connection to the characters because they are interesting I just feel like we have so much more to discover. I’m excited to see what book 2 brings us.

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- I don’t know why this didn’t hit me like I wanted it to. I liked the second half more than the first, but only because I finally started to feel like I knew more about the characters. I just didn’t feel connected to these characters or like I knew them how I wanted to. I felt the most connected to Vasya and Katya, and I really wanted to feel connected to the sisters but just didn’t. The relationships felt insta-lovey and surface level. I did not like Vitalik even though I usually love morally grey characters. He felt very “dude bro,” would not stop with the sexual innuendos, and made a bunch of unintelligent choices without enough info that made no sense to me for being such a “professional.” The Magic felt very surface level. I’m not sure why people were being bonded to dragons in the first place. It was a really cool concept but I feel like I don’t really know anything about it. Which I’m assuming more will be revealed in the next book, but I wish I had gotten more info now in book one to pull me in. None of these criticisms felt dire or particularly annoying. I just didn’t vibe with it like I wanted to 😭 Which makes me sad bc the concept is so cool.

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The cover on this book is right up my alley, and the description was so fascinating--it's a real shame I didn't end up liking this a ton. I was expecting a more....cut-throat isn't the right word...but a more intense and thrilling ride. The pacing in this story was surprisingly slow, which you would think could help me understand the world-building seeing as I had extra time to cook in it, but I was still confused by it. This story wasn't horrible, and I thought that the concept was really interesting, but the execution bordered on boring at times. I wanted more depth all around, but less meanderingly paced. Sometimes, I felt my brain wanting to start skimming just to combat the pacing, but I persevered.
I would be interested in more from this author in this world, because with the groundwork laid I feel that a sequel could actually be really good.

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Thank you for the Arc! I had been watching this book since I saw it pop up on Amazon. I was very interested based on the blurb.

So let's get into it...

The beginning of this book felt a bit dense and hard to get through. There wasn't much world building. I felt like we are just thrown into a world with little explanation.

We jump between 5 different character’s POVs which is a lot! It makes it a bit frustrating. I think there were far too many POV's for a single book especially one this length.

The concept behind the plot was great, I loved the idea of Gods being caged within people and the amount of power they would be able to yield.

I could see how this could lead to the characters having god complexes and believing they’re better than the commoners. However, I feel like the author could have excecuted this concept more in depth.

The magic system is unique and interesting. Dragon Gods pulled from their realm to be put into the physical bodies of human hosts.

Overall I think the book fell short for me personally. It was a bit confusing at times and didn't flow well enough for me to be pulled in. I felt like my interest was short lived.

I would give this a 3 star.

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I wanted to love this book because when I first read the blurb it had so many things I usually like, but in the end it was an okay read with some parts I thoroughly enjoyed and others that fell a little flat for me. I think my main problem was the pacing, which was slower than what I usually like for a good chunk of the story. This definitely made it a longer reading experience and I found myself a little confused with the worldbuilding at times which is inspired by Imperial Russia. However, I enjoyed the magic and the dragon gods as it was a good concept.

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To Cage a God
by Elizabeth May
These Monstrous Gods #1
NetGalley ARC
Pub Date: Feb 20, 2024
Ages: 18+

Bones painfully grafted as young children by their mother, commoners Galina and Sera have unwilling gods in their bodies. The girls were remade to become weapons to overthrow the rulers who were born as vessels for the same gods.

Galina poses as nobility, gaining entrance to the palace, but still at the mercy of the Empress, a tyrant with a powerful fire-welding god, who takes pleasure in burning people alive.

That's pretty much the story. It wasn't bad, but it did drag along. The two sisters both get their own chapters, (as do a few others), Galina in the palace and Sera outside attempting to finish their mother's work to create a serum that will do something extra to Galina's god, but what that is is not explained very well. Other information and backstory about the gods and how everything came about is missing. The point of view from a few of those gods could have given the story more depth.

The romance, ehh... of course that had to be added, though not too graphic, but it was only filler and really not needed in that much detail.

A lot is missing from this book: the magic and the world, but there is plenty about Sera and her husband. Remove the romance and give more love to the world, magic, and those gods, and BAM a better story.

Will I look for the next in the series... Nah.

2 Stars

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*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review*

Elizabeth May has been a favourite author of mine since I found The Falconer trilogy back in grade 11. The Falconer trilogy continues to be one of my favourite series of all time, and when I heard that May was releasing an adult romantasy, oh my GOD was I excited. And this? TO CAGE A GOD exceeded my expectations.

First of all, both the US and UK covers are two of the best covers out there. Secondly, this book was phenomenal. I was never bored. The pacing was amazing. The story was so GOODDDD. I'm desperate for more. I need the next one.

If you've read The Falconer trilogy and love the banter between Aileana, Kiaran, Aithinne, and Derek, oh my god you are in for a TREAT in To Cage A God!!!!!!!! I was hoping for banter, and I got what I wanted.

Elizabeth May, you've done it again.

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Imperialist Russia–inspired fantasy with strong M/F and F/F romantic subplots, chronic illness representation, and found family.

Here’s the plot: generations ago, some people summoned dragons / gods against their will from their own realm and caged the gods and their powers inside themselves. These people promptly call themselves divine, put themselves in charge, and have been oppressing and terrorizing everyone else for centuries. Four of our five POV characters are rebels seeking to overthrow these god-containing nobles.

This was slow and violent to start and slow to draw me into the story, but the pace picked up about halfway through and kept me turning the pages till the end. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4, and I’ll be on the lookout for the sequel.

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3.5 Stars

The premise is excellent: A dark slavic-inspired sapphic fantasy where dragons can be caged inside humans to grant them godpower. This power is reserved for nobility who use it to gain power and oppress those without it, except for 2 sisters who were forcibly instilled with the gods to serve as the turning point of the resistance. One will resist undercover from inside the palace and the other will continue the work outside.

However, it didn’t live up to the promise of what it could have been. From the onset it feels like you are dropped into the middle of the story and are left to kind of figure out where you are in relation to the characters, plot, and setting. This isn't uncommon in fantasy novels and sometimes you have to just trust the process, but it did make it difficult to feel connected with the story and the characters as you tried to get your footing in the story. It’s not that the story was bad, but I didn't feel the pull to come back to it in between reading due to that lack of connection.

The characters were interesting and I loved how much insight we were given into Sera, Galina, and Vasilisa’s past. I wish the same level of attention had been given to Katya and Vatalik. Vatalik in particular didn't need to be a POV because there simply just wasn't enough time to properly flesh his character, therefore making him seem like a caricature of a morally grey male love interest rather than a full fleshed out and integral part of the storyline. I DID enjoy the banter between Sera and Vitalik.

The world-building and magic system was intriguing but I wanted more. I loved how the godmagic could present as different types of magic; elemental (fire/frost) or healing and it would have been so interesting to understand the different types/classes of magic and the interplay between those types of magic and the types of dragon.

I enjoyed the sapphic and chronic illness/pain representation in the book and I felt like the physical disability rep was done very well - this character was maybe my favorite overall! Some of the sex scenes for both partners felt forced or inappropriately timed and that pulled me out of the story. The pacing was slow to start, leveled out through the middle and then felt rushed through the end.

I cant get over how much potential this book had and how much I wanted that to be realized. I’m undecided on if I will continue with the series but if it is an opportunity to expand upon the things that were done well and right in this book, I would strongly consider it!

Thank you to netgalley and DAW Books for the opportunity to read To Cage A God as an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I was really looking forward to enjoying this book a lot more than I did.
Russia? Dragon? Gods? All sounds good...
But it read like the same YA, cliche driven stories that I keep putting aside more and more often lately.
I'd just really hoped for more...

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I wanted to love this book because when I first read the blurb it had so many things I usually like, but in the end it was an okay read with some parts I thoroughly enjoyed and others that fell a little flat for me. I think my main problem was the pacing, which was slower than what I usually like for a good chunk of the story. This definitely made it a longer reading experience and I found myself a little confused with the worldbuilding at times which is inspired by Imperial Russia. However, I enjoyed the magic and the dragon gods as it was a good concept.

Something I noticed is that the characters said each other’s full names a lot, to the point where it was hard not to notice and I found it a little weird. There were quite a few POVs in this book and I only connected with a couple of them, such as Katya and Galina who are mainly at the palace for most of the story. I also enjoyed the sapphic romance much more than the M/F one, but that’s a personal preference as I’m not one for the “bad boys” anymore.

On a whole it was a good story and while the ending definitely rounds this up to 3.5 stars, I’m not sure it’s enough to bring me back to the world in future.

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Thank you, NetGalley and DAW, for the chance to read this book in exchange of an honest review.

Galina and Sera's mother used ancient secrets to graft gods into their bones and now they are bound to violent gods and granted powers, usually granted to royalties. Now they are forced to become living weapon against a brutal empire, willing to crush commoners in its wake. After a failed revolutions, with their mother gone and their country ready to war again, Sera and Galina come up with a plan to infiltrate the palace and take the elm of the rebellion, ending the power of the royal family. Divide and conquer. Sera is, reluctantly, reunited with her former lover, now violent rebel leader and Galina infiltrate the palace, meaning to destroy it from the inside. In this brutal world, Galina's only respite is the brilliant and sharp-tongued princess, leading her to become torn between desire and duty, between working together to expose the lies of an empire or destroying it.

To Cage a God is my first book by Elizabeth May, but it will not be the last. I fell in love with the author's writing style and in this book she created a perfect romantasy, an epic story, filled with romance, action, violence, blood, but also, desire, family, found family and love, an Imperial Russian inspired story. Set in a world where dragons are grafted in the bones of the alurea, the royalty and the commoner are crushed under rules, taxes and violently eliminated, Sera and Galina share a traumatic past, filled with experiments, violence and pain, thanks to their mother, a past filled with the royal family's brutality and their desire to get a better world for the common people.
The story is told by multiple POVs, mostly Galina's and Sera's, while they divide and conquer, but, also, struggling because of desire, love, duty and pain, in a complex and intricate story, filled with secrets, magic and power.
I loved everything in this book!

Perfect for romantasy fans of Fourth Wing and Shadow and Bone, this dark, Imperial Russia-inspired romantic fantasy novel launches the These Monstrous Gods duology of draconic gods, political revolutions, and deadly magical powers from a Sunday Times bestselling author

"This series opener delivers on not just epic fantasy, but epic action and romance." —Kirkus

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