Cover Image: To Cage a God

To Cage a God

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I really enjoyed the beginning of this story. I love a good faux Russian setting; the first chapter hooked me, and Sera and Galini seemed like they would be people I was going to enjoy getting to be in the heads of while we take down the ruling power. That being said, while in the beginning I like Sera's POV it ended up being short-lived. We ended up with 5 different points of view, and I would have been happy with two of them. Galina, I liked seeing her in the thick of it, overcoming her dependence on alcohol and getting into a position to take everything down. I also enjoyed a secondary character's POV, Katya. Now, she had a reason to be a part of the rebellion, and I enjoyed all of her scenes immensely.

I liked the ending, it was nicely action-packed, and it wrapped up rather with no cliffhangers.

Was this review helpful?

I was stepping out of my comfort zone with this book. It isn't in the genre that I typically read. It was an interesting read and I liked it more than I thought I would. The reviews that I saw made me a bit nervous.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC of this!

I had such high hopes for this book, but sadly, they were not met. The premise of the book was right up my alley, and I was super excited to read it, but once I did, it fell flat. The main reason for that was that I honestly really only cared about Sera's POVs and her relationship with her love interest. Her chapters were the most interesting to me while everything else fell flat.

The pacing of the book also set me off the book. It was super slow and I just couldn't get into it enough to really get myself excited about what I was reading, even when it was a Sera chapter. I would say that if you are not a fan of slow pacing to not read this.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you Netgalley for this arc in exchange for an honest review. I ended up really enjoying this book! I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first but as the story progressed I really got into the lore and the world. I really like how a lot of this story focuses on a sister bond that is more important than anything else. Galina and Sera were really interesting main characters and I liked that we had a couple more POVs sprinkled into the story. It was very well rounded and the world was really cool and had a great magic system. I also appreciated the disability rep and the strong female leads. I’m excited to see where this story goes!

Was this review helpful?

In a fantasy world inspired by Imperial Russia, the ruling class rules with the power of dragon gods. Magic is literally etched into their bones, allowing them to literally cage these draconic beings and siphon their power. But some years ago, Galina and Sera's mother learned this process herself, using her daughters as guinea pigs. Now grown up, the two will divide and conquer to bring down a kingdom.

As Galina infiltrates the palace under the guise of a wronged noble child, Sera reconnects with her roguish lover — who still has no idea she wields the same power as their imperial oppressors. With Galina established as the "Common God," the pair work to bring her dragon god's power to its full potential. As Sera rekindles her romance and Galina finds herself falling for an isolated princess, the clock is ticking. Their lives, and the lives of their spies and allies, are on the line. And if they don't unleash their god powers on the ruling class, it might be turned on them instead — be it from the inside or the outside.

To Cage a God leans heavily into physical pain (both passive and self-inflicted) as being part and parcel of its magic. While it makes for excellent metaphors and dialogues across the board, there are times when it pushes a bit hard. If you're a fan of hurt/comfort stories, that might be a bonus. That aside, it's a rare inspiration for a fantasy setting, and one that's played with beautifully. This is the first book of a duology; and while the first book was interesting, the setup for the second sounds like it will be even better.

Was this review helpful?

I DNFed this after about 4 chapters. The writing was repetitive and choppy. I'm sure this book is for someone, but I am definitely not the target population.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to DAW for the copy of this book!

TO CAGE A GOD is a slow-paced fantasy with Imperial Russian themes. While I thought the concept was interesting and it held my attention for awhile, this was just too slow for me. A third of the way in, we're not really even sure if there will be romance or not, and the dragon-gods-within-people concept sounds cool, but took awhile to form and was a little confusing.

Was this review helpful?

Definitely one of my favorite books in 2024 already. Wonderful world building, while being funny and smart. Definitely reminded me of an adult Six of Crows kind of vibe. The banter was sharp and witty. I can't wait for the second one.

Was this review helpful?

The beginning of this book felt very dense and hard to get through. Once I was able to get the hang of the plot and world building it became a bit more digestible. I really liked what the relationship of Vitaly and Sera could have been, but I feel like it got too muddled and their morals quickly feel away. Without getting too much into the plot, I feel like they never held up the morals each of them built separately.

We jump between 5 different character’s POVs which is a bit too much for my liking. It constantly had me disappointed when we would switch to a character I didn’t care as much for (Katya lol).

The concept behind the story was great, I quickly fell into the idea of Gods being caged within people and the amount of power they would hold. I could easily see how this could lead to these very people have god complexes and believing they’re better than others. However, I feel like the author could have excecuted on this concept better, almost all of the world building was show no tell which made it really hard to really get into the plot line.

Arc provided from netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

Was this review helpful?

To Cage A God is a thrilling story of love, sedition, and revolution set against the backdrop of a Russian inspired fantasy world.

Galina is orphaned when the empress razes her village to the ground with her godfire, leaving her as the unintended sole survivor. She is soon adopted by Irina, a revolutionary who is determined to grant godpower to the common people using a combination of science and long buried historical texts. Galina and her foster sister Sera become Irina's greatest weapons in her revolution - the first commoners in centuries to weild godpower - but when Irina is caught and killed by the empress, the sisters go into hiding.

One of the things I love so much about this book is that it begins after so much history has passed. Their foster mother is dead, her attempted revolution failed, and Sera and Galina are living quietly in hiding, trying to forget the scars that their mother left on them in childhood. Following the assassination of the emperor, Sera decides its time that they dive back into the fray, and she convinces Galina not only to accompany her, but to infiltrate the palace in an attempt to overthrow the empress without inciting a war between the nobility and the common people.

The magic system in this book is wild to think about. Dragon gods are summoned from their realm to dwell within the physical bodies of human hosts, and those hosts are able to weild the God's power. The dragons are physically caged within their human's body, writing and moving between their internal organs. Insane, but also really cool.

The story is told from multiple perspectives, many of which are introduced about a third of the way through the story. Elizabeth makes sure each character has distinct goals, personalities, and secrets, and she engages each one actively in the unfolding of the story.

The book has a satisfying story arc that ends with a violent confrontation, but it leaves enough threads unresolved to set up well for a second book.

The relationships in this book crackle with fiery romantic tension, and the large cast gives the author room to work in so many of my favorite tropes - second chance romance, enemies to lovers, forbidden love, princess & commoner. She even sprinkles in a handful of knife to throat moments that will make the fantasy romance lovers swoon.

I recommend this book for those who love stories of magical revolution, diverse casts of characters, Russian inspired fantasy worlds, and morally gray heroes and heroines.

Was this review helpful?

Unfortunately this book did not work for me. The writing felt like the roughest first draft, the sentence structures clunky and hard to read despite the short chapters. Nothing was fleshed out enough and there was virtually no prose. The premise was excellent and I was really interested in where the story could go, but the execution fell completely off because of the pacing and above mentioned issues. I would have guessed this was a debut author’s work had I now known of their previous titles.

Was this review helpful?

To Cage a God is a bit of a misleading title as the Gods ( or dragons) have already been caged or rather attached to humans. The ruling class have inherited their caged gods and lord over the rest of the population literally ( the rest are called supplicants). Sera and Galina are two sisters who are their exception in that their mother has manage to attach Gods to them in an effort to defeat the powerful and of course evil Empress ( and the nobility).
I received a copy of the book for a free and unbiased opinion.

The book was a quick read and entertaining, requiring little effort. I loved the chapters from Sera’s point of view and would have happily read more about her and her poor judgement in men but the POV’s are shared between her and a few other people. I have to confess that I did find some of these POVs seemed to slow down the pace of the book and the action but then it did push forward the romantic elements of the book.
But while the book is entertaining, this wasn’t for me because of the romance, which seemed to take precedence to the sisters getting on kick- starting the revolution. There were some broad strokes of world-building but not enough- I would have liked to learn more about the society, the magic, the science, and the politics.
While the book is heavy on the romance, there are some darker themes particularly around the Empress’s treatment of her handmaiden, Katya.

Was this review helpful?

Unfortunately not a hit for me- it wasn't terribly, but it also wasn't terribly exciting. I found myself bored more often than not, and the magic system wasn't my favorite.

Was this review helpful?

I devoured this book. I could not put it down because I was so fascinated with the magic system and the characters. I absolutely loved Gallina and Vasilisa the most, but Sera’s plotting and character growth throughout were fantastic.

There are a lot of things that induce trauma on these characters so please check out the CWs before reading this (off the top of my head: cutting, traumatic childhood pain, torture, so much violence, hiding a chronic disease, alcoholism, suicide, stabbing (some self-inflicted), and emotional abuse).

There were a lot of things that felt familiar about this book, but with the biggest difference being a magic system that involves caging a god inside a persons body - and these gods are dragons! Now one thing I would have loved more of is some rules on this magic system, but hopefully we find out more in the sequel!

My ratings are often based on how a book makes me feel and this one made me feel all kinds of things - both good and bad (so much trauma)!


Thank you to DAW Books and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Was this review helpful?

4.5 -⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

"If you're a monster, then be a monster. Show the world your teeth. It makes no different to me...but don't ever use me as an excuse to make yourself smaller. That's something I won't stand for."

To Cage a God is the first in an adult fantasy romance series that VERY loosely draws inspiration from the Russian Revolution. It follows to sister, Sera and Galina, who have hidden from the world after the death of their revolutionary mother. In this world, the nobility have all the power, in addition to special abilities thanks to gods housed inside of them - great dragon like beings. In a desperate attempt to find a way to bring down these powerful beings, Sera and Galina's mother uncovers way to fight fire with forcing gods into her young daughters. They were raised to be weapons to fight their mother's war...until her demise. Years later and a greater war is looming. These two sisters realize something must be done (the rebellion isn't working) and they are must infiltrate the powerful courts with a tempting empress' daughter and estranged rebel lover. They must choose - reveal all the secrets within the empire or burn it to ash.

I had so much fun with book...mainly because of Vitaly and Vasilisa

Sera and Galina may not be biological sisters but they are bound together by deep ties. I loved their relationship but also how we get to see them as two distinct person trying to find a way. They both experience brutal upbringings and the gods within them are merciless. I felt this helped really connect them to the world and for me to see them rounded and raw and real.

Katya is another character that I truly did not expect. I found her story really helped cement the essentialness of Sera and Galina's coup as well as help readers understand the true devastation of the current status quo. The things she endures...I need her to get more of happy ending.

As I mentioned before, Vitaly and Vasilisa stole the show. Vitaly for his dark morally grey attitude and undying love for Sera - truly she could burn down his home and he would thank her. I loved his casualness yet underlying brutality. Vasilisa on the other hand shows a side to the monarchy that is refreshing and indicates the flaws within in. I enjoyed her openness and her love for Galina opened her eyes to world.

This book does contain spice. I would place is at around 1.5 spicy peppers out of 5 spicy peppers. There is a lot of bases being traversed here but any homeruns are no super descriptive. I found the romance was powerful and pulled on my strings but I wanted more of the cherry on top that comes with the union of spice.

"My morality begins and ends with you. It's always been that way. Always will be."

In terms of world and story - I will admit the beginning is a bit rough. You are thrust into the world quite abruptly and it takes some time to catch your bearings. The world fit a traditional view of rebellion and coups with oppressive regime bent on brutality and coldness. Yet when the relationships between characters started to build I fell in love with this book. I found their journeys and fight together meant more. I found the three different subplots going on with Galina, Katya, and Sera to be refreshing and I never wanted to skip one over the other. I still have questions but I ended the journey feeling good and wanting to continue exploring this world.

Overall, if you want a rebellion fantasy romance with god magic, compelling relationships, and espionage then this is a series to check out!

Thank you Daw for the arc!

Was this review helpful?

Let’s just say, I’m glad this is the cover for the U.S. version of the book. Check out the U.K. one if you don’t believe me! I mean, it’s definitely a statement…but it’s also not the type of cover I’d necessarily want starting out at me from my shelves! However, what truly caught my interest was the promise of a Russian-inspired fantasy world in which two sisters head up a rebel cause. I mean, that checks a pretty decent number of my personal preferences right there. Add in a dash of romance, and yep, I was excited to check this one out!

This book was a very hot and cold affair as far as my changing enjoyment levels throughout the story. It started off great, I will say. I was immediately drawn in to both Sera and Galina’s narration and their different styles. Here, finally, was a case where the two POVs felt distinct but each was enjoyable. I even felt fairly confident that the prickly but powerful Galina was going to be my favorite of the two. However, this strong start didn’t last. Much to my dismay, as the book progressed, we were introduced to a whopping three OTHER POV characters. And five…five is just too many.

And in this case, it was incredibly apparent that at least two of them had no business having POVs at all. We had a fair number of chapters from one of the Queen’s handmaidens, and yet every single chapter we heard from her, she literally went through the same exact story beats: the Queen killed her sister when her sister was a handmaiden, the Queen is violent and may kill her at any moment, she hates the Queen. Rinse and repeat and get ready to hear the same story about six more times, all to conclude in…yeah, nothing really. From there, we also got a handful (maybe three or four? not enough to amount to anything, that’s for sure) of chapters from Sera’s love interest, Vitaly. Again, this character had no arc or story of his own. The entire purpose of his chapters, apparently, was to give readers a glimpse into his mind as he repeated over and over that he was a bad guy, but he’d do anything for Sera. Which…we’d already heard him say aloud several times to Sera herself, thus completely negating any reason to hear directly from this character himself.

Lastly, we also had chapters from the Princess Vasilisa’s perspective. These, at least, were more worthwhile in that Vasilisa has the remnants of an arc to be found, in that she has had a troubled upbringing with her mother, the Queen, and must face the reality of her mother’s violent and unchanging nature. I’ll also say that this character having POV chapters was fairly necessary for this romance. Not for the reasons you’re thinking though! But because if she didn’t, we’d have had about a grand total of three interactions between her and Galina to build up a romance. As it stands, I really struggled with this romance either way. It’s classic instalove, and if you actually add up the time Galina and Vasilisa spend together, it rounds out to a few hours! Total! Before they’re professing love and Galina is insisting to Sera that Vasilisa will turn on her mother and side with the rebels. And she’s right, a few hours was all it did take! It’s all pretty crazy, and the focus on this romance was one of the reasons my interest in Galina’s storyline dropped quickly from my favorite to one I barely cared about.

Sera, instead, became my favorite character and actually took up the bulk of the action of the book. She’s the only one who is truly doing anything much of the time, and almost all of the action scenes come through her storyline. And if we had taken out Vitaly’s unnecessary chapters which I think managed to actually hurt the romance, I would have enjoyed this second chance love story as well.

Honestly, this book was a bit of a hot mess. The world-building and fantasy elements (the idea of gods being caged within people who can then harness their powers) all had a lot of potential. But the story fell apart due to failures of craft. There were moments when the writing was incredibly strong, but others when it felt all over the place. And then, worst of all, the decision to include so many POV characters, especially when so many of them had no real arcs of their own, really hurt the overall book. If things had been kept to just Sera and Galina’s stories, I think the story would have been massively more successful. As it stands, the bones of a good book can be seen in this one, but the author got into her own way too many times for it really come together. If you enjoy large casts of characters, however, you may still want to give this a shot. Sera’s story is still enjoyable, if you go in focusing on that.

Rating 7: I enjoyed one of the main characters a lot; unfortunately, she was one of five POVs, which drastically reduced my overall experience.

(Link will go live on The Library Ladies on February 28)

Was this review helpful?

DNF at 50%

There is nothing technically wrong with this book, and I'm sure plenty of people would enjoy it. For whatever reason, it is not grabbing me and I can't bring myself to care about any of the characters or anything that's happening. It's taken me a long time to even get to this point because I just don't want to pick it up. Again, the writing is fine and the synopsis was interesting enough for me to request it, but I can't seem to get into it right now.

I might try to read it again at some point in the future.

Was this review helpful?

What if you lived in a world where a class of people have trapped gods within them to use their powers? What if a way is found to do this to a common person?

Elizabeth May developed a world that was full of intrigue and revolution. She looked at how far people will go to find their way out from underneath the thumb of leaders who are literally burning the world down to keep their power. Enter two sisters who's mother found a way to give them the same powers.

The characters throughout the book are well developed, Sera has spent her whole life fighting, she is a warrior, but more than anything she is a protector. The god within her demands her blood for it's assistance.

Galina has lived a life of suffering and is placed in the heart of the empire to bring down the empress.

There is a small amount of spice in the book, but one of the most touching moments in the book shows deep caring and passion between two people. The way she wrote that moment showed love in a way that was so unique and said everything without using words.

I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read more from Elizabeth May, thank you to Net Galley and DAW for the ARC

Was this review helpful?

I have been dying to read this and super excited I've had it on preorder and I'm so happy I was approved for the arc this was such a good book I loved it so much. I was completely hooked from the first page and couldn't put it down loved the story the writing and the characters so much

Was this review helpful?

I ended up DNF'ing this book at the midway point. I wanted to make a few notes about my review and as I was putting my thoughts down, I came to the conclusion that this was not a series I wanted to continue. Once I realized that, I started to question why I was even continuing the book. I've been working on this book for a week and I'm only 52% of the way through when this is something I should have been able to finish in about 5 days or so. I would have been more interested in finish the book and maybe continuing this series had this been a debut for the author, but since it is not, I feel confident in saying that their writing is just not for me.

Writing style: From the very beginning, I found myself getting confused every time a new person or environment was introduced. As I kept reading, the author was able to clear things up, but I was constantly finding myself confused about where we were going. I think this also led to how slowly I was reading this book. Another element that bothered me was the pacing and the fact that we were told rather than shown a lot of things. For example, we are simply told that Sera worked painstakingly to come up with a potential antidote, but we saw none of that. We didn't see her toil, we didn't see a passage of time, she just showed up with a finished product.

World building: I would describe the world building as both way too simple and way too complex. Overall, I think the author had too many elements going on and not enough depth to any of it. We had tons of... countries? - some groups of people involved, we have multiple characters and a lot of POVs, not to mention there were some unique terms in here and I don't think any of it was explained well. I think the author knew what she was talking about but didn't look at any of it through the lens of someone learning these things for the first time. A book with that many elements should have been at least another 100 pages. But, in reality, I think this would have benefited from being more simplistic so that it could focus on what the author did well, which is characters.

Character dynamics: The relationships on page are the only thing that kept me going and made it hard to decide to DNF. I loved Sera and Galina - we didn't get a lot of time with them together but I felt their love and commitment to each other early on. I also really enjoyed Sera and Vitaly - their dynamic was 5/5 for me. I think by making this book more simplistic, the author could have gone in a full on romantasy direction vs. a fantasy romance and focused more heavily on them, in particular, because I would have not only completed the book but probably given it a 4-5 star.

Final thoughts: While I think anyone who finds this synopsis intriguing should definitely pick it up, I cannot say that I would actively recommend it to anyone. I think it would be too confusing for a beginner, too dense for a romantasy lover, but not well crafted enough for a fantasy romance or epic fantasy lover. I think the author tried to do too much and would have benefited from picking a more specific lane.

*For the sake of this review, I consider a fantasy romance to be a book that puts more focus on a fantasy plot while a romantasy is more of a romance book that happens to have fantasy elements.

Was this review helpful?