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To Cage a God

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Member Reviews

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

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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.

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May’s latest novel is a slow burning fantasy opener that promises love, death, pain and perseverance. While the beginning was too dense for my liking, the book picked up speed with each chapter. I enjoyed the romantic pairings and the magical lore.

I’ll definitely be reading the next book in this duology. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC.

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4.5 stars

I’ve always loved Elizabeth May’s books, and while this is very different from her other books, I still loved it. It’s high stakes, full of tension, plots, rebellion, super morally grey characters with foul mouths, and an interesting magic system. The gods as dragons caged within a person’s body was so unique.
There are 2 main romantic relationships, plus the relationship between the 2 sisters, and their relationships with their co-conspirators. Vitalik is one of those morally black characters who only loves one person in the world and I’m so here for it. He’s so infuriating, but his declarations were the best in the entire book. Sera and Galina (and Katya) have all been through so much trauma and abuse, so I was rooting so hard for them to triumph over the truly evil empress.
There’s so much action in this book and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. The relationships are slow burn with good payoff, and the end is satisfying; it ties up the current story threads well and sets up larger battles to come in future books.
If you love stabby foul mouthed heroines, this book is for you!

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a preview. All opinions are my own.

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Thank you to NetGalley and DAW for the ARC of this book!

Fantasy fans add this to your TBR list immediately. This new Imperial Russia-inspired romantic fantasy is the first book int he Monstrous Gods duology. Think Shadow and Bone but more. Evil rulers, political revolutions, impending war, and epic draconic powers. The ruling elite are born bodies able to cage gods for their power. Commoners have no power, until Galina and Sera's mother used forbidden knowledge to change their bodies so they too could cage a god and possess their power. Now their mother is dead and they make a plan to bring down the rulers from the inside by Galina infiltrating the palace. Great representation for LGBTQIAP+, and people living with chronic pain. And in the words of the author, everyone in this book is horny. So yes, you get romance and spice to go with your epic draconic god epic fantasy. The main villain reminds me of Maeve from Throne of Glass, fascinating character but you also hate her. There is violence and self harm within, so check content warnings.

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I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

To Cage a God by Elizabeth May is a multi-POV romantasy inspired by the Russian Revolution. Sisters Galina and Sera are bound to zmei, dragon-gods of immense power, and have been raised to destroy an empire by any means necessary. Galina enters the palace as a handmaiden and meets the isolated Princess Vasilisa while Sera reconnects with Vitaly, her former lover who is also a revolutionary.

What I liked was the romantic bits between Sera and Vitaly and Galina and Vasilisa. Vitaly is obsessed with getting Sera, his wife, back while Sera is doing her best to focus on the mission and making sure Galina makes it out alive. Vasilisa and Galina’s romance is more of an enemies-to-lovers vs the second chance romance of Sera and Vitaly. Galina and Vasilisa’s zmeya are drawn to each other and the two women are, in turn, attracted to each other almost from their first meeting.

There is more action in To Cage a God, the worldbuilding is lighter, and the chapters are on the shorter side, making it a faster-paced read. Each chapter flips between the five main POV characters so we see a lot of what different POV characters are doing in the plot and in the romantic aspects.

I would recommend this to fans of Anastasia retellings and readers looking for a fantasy that is more romance leaning.

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I was excited to get an eARC of this book as it has had a little buzz around it but I'm afraid this was not for me.

I understand editing teams are understaffed or underqualified post-COVID and books like this show it. This needed MANY more drafts, better character introductions and more believable interactions between the characters,
The only reason this is getting 2 stars and not 1 was because it was easy to follow.

I would skip this one,

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Thank you to DAW Books for this ARC of To Cage a God in exchange for an honest review. I love a family story and this one delivered. I love the high stakes politics and the dark fantasy elements within this novel and I could see the potential, but other than the family aspect, the way the plot tied together did not make a lot of sense. It is a duology, so I will be tuning into the next one.

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Half of it was good! I liked the wlw side romance, and Katya’s POV was my favorite!! The suspense and the dynamic between her and the empress was so good!! I wish Vasilisa and the empress’s relationship was half as complex / interesting. The empress is her mother! I just expected more from that side of things. But oh my gosh, I HATED Sera’s love interest. He was so bland and ANNOYING. HE ALMOST KILLED SERAS FRIENDS AND SISTER BUT SHE CAN’T STOP BEING HORNY!! SPOILER: when they fucked as their friend was being tortured, that was the last straw. Their relationship unfortunately soured the whole book for me, to the point where I was skipping their chapters.

I know this is just a part of publishing now, and I’m sure it wasn’t completely the author’s fault, but this book was advertised almost entirely with tropes. Knife-to-throat lovers-to-enemies was how she kept describing Sera’s relationship, but it was SO BORING! Like, that trope was the entirety of the relationship. However, I think readers who like Chloe Gong might like this relationship, so it’s worth checking out if it’s your thing!

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📣 a violent fantasy with two romantic-ish storylines & a rebellion to take down a corrupt Empress

📖 approximately what percentage of pics on your phone is related to bookstagram? 🤣 Gosh, mine feels like it’s 40%.

Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC & the publisher for the complimentary hardcopy. All opinions provided are my own.

If you like dark-ish fantasies with characters who’re determined to pursue a greater good, come what may, you might like To Cage a God by Elizabeth May.

In this book, gods can live inside of people, either from birth or through violent body manipulations later in life. The latter is what happened to sisters Sera & Galina, & both suffer their own hardships trying to accommodate the god imprisoned within them.

Overarching everything is the evil empress, the most feared god-wielder in the land, who’s committed countless atrocities including against our leads’ families. The coup the sisters want to enact is both general & personal.

The leads’ efforts to protect each other offers some nice softness to this story, as does their growing attraction to their respective lovers. None of those entanglements are easy, & my romance-loving heart enjoyed both, especially the fervor of the morally grey Vitaly who loves Sera passionately, wholeheartedly.

Ending with an action-packed series of events & great disability rep, this book sets up book 2 in this duology with an oomph.

4 ⭐️ . Out 02/20.

Please see a trusted reviewer’s list of CWs.

[ID: Jess, a white woman wearing a yellow-sleeved sweater, holds the book over a pile of snow.]

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3.25
Overall, I really like the imperial Russian inspiredness of the book. I feel like I don’t really read a lot of books that are. I really liked Sera’s character in particular. I found that I was continuously intrigued by the world and magic system so it kept me on reading. I do wish the pacing was a little bit faster but enjoyed it overall. Intrigued to see what book two brings

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Con las lecturas del año pasado me di cuenta de que una parte nada desdeñable de lo leído pertenece al género romantasy, algo que me sorprendió pero que luego, con más reposo, vi que tenía mucho sentido. En la fantasía actual hay mucha tendencia a incluir tramas amorosas, a usar el enemies to lovers y en general, a dar más importancia a las relaciones interpersonales. To Cage a God es un buen ejemplo de esto.


Elizabeth May le da un barniz imperial ruso a su fantasía asemejando su mundo a los últimos años de los zares de Rusia. Es por lo tanto algo previsible parte del desarrollo de la historia, aunque la parte mágica sí que es más original. El poder que ostentan las clases más altas deviene de su relación con los dioses que habitan sus cuerpos, encarcelados de forma hereditaria. Resulta también interesante el paralelismo con la hemofilia de las familias reales de la época, que se refleja también en este mundo fantástico. Somos testigos de la magia y de la crueldad de la emperatriz en el primer capítulo, cuando asistimos a la destrucción de un pueblo entero en un ataque de ira.

Por otra parte, los rebeldes también han llevado a cabo sus experimentos mágicos y han conseguido que dos personas tengan un dios en su interior y puedan ejercer la magia, sin haberlo heredado genéticamente. To Cage a God nos irá mostrando la lucha de poder entre ambos estamentos.

Lo que parece ser muy interesante al principio, pronto se desinfla. Los personajes aparecen muy acartonados, y las relaciones entre ellos son previsibles en exceso. La trama está muy centrada en el palacio y la infiltración que llevan a cabo los rebeldes es, cuando menos, peregrina. Me temo que hay una acumulación de clichés importante y aunque reconozco que pueden resultar de interés las tramas amorosas, a mí me han dejado bastante fría. Tampoco es que se pueda destacar mucho la prosa de la autora. Es un libro perfectamente prescindible.

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Unfortunately I had to DNF this book. This was one of the most poorly written books I've been unfortunate enough to read. I did flip through what I did not read and yet the prose was unbearable through the rest of it. Most of it read as nonsensical. The characters were barely fleshed out and the romance was absolutely ridiculous. There are also 552 times the word "god" was mentioned. that's close to twice per page. Absolutely insane how everything about this was quite off putting and I'm not quite sure how this got a special edition.

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Shadow and Bone meets Imperial Russia-inspired romantasy. SAY WHAT!?

That line alone was enough to get me to pick up To Cage a God by Elizabeth May.

On to the nitty-gritty... I had a hard time getting into this one, but once I felt like the general world building was through- I had a much easier time. I loved the aspect of following two sisters on their journey leading a rebellion. Although, I am not usually a fan of following multiple main characters unless its just the Hero and Heroine. (same reason I had a hard time with Game of Thrones!)
In the case of To Cage a God- It was done well enough that I still was enjoying each characters journey and I wasn't bored and skimming pages waiting to get back to my favorite character.

This definitely gave me heist vibes and I'm always all for that. Secret missions? I'M IN.

My only flaw with this one is I definitely felt like it was written more YA style than NA or Adult. I was okay with that being I enjoyed the book, BUT I do wish the characters came across more mature. I think that would have moved up my rating for sure, only because I'm not a YA reader. If you read both YA and Adult fantasy I definitely think you'd get even more enjoyment out of this.

Thank you to netgally for a copy of To Cage a God in exchange for my honest review!

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This one was not for me. It has the ingredients of all the right things for a YA action fantasy with the romance and spice of a NA romantasy, but I didn't really like the characters very much and felt removed from the action. The best thing about the book is the Russian atmosphere, but again, I have read this done much better. I appreciated the main characters were revolutionaries, but the plot was very convoluted and the violence a bit overdone for effect. Sad to say this one fell flat for me, but I don't think I was quite the intended audience. If you are looking for alot of fights, some romance, and atmosphere and love anything with dragons, this may be your fare.

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Vitaly is beyond smitten- I LOVE it.

I don't know what more to say? This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. Unfortunately, it's not going to be one of my favorites.

This was a bit of a rocky read for me. There was honestly so much confusion, especially in the beginning. Although I always expect that when reading fantasy. It just felt like this was made unnecessarily complicated when it could have been much simpler? I don't know if that makes sense?

I had high hopes for this one especially coming from the author who wrote one of my favorite trilogies on the whole world. The Falconer was so exceptionally good. I couldn't expect anything less from Elizabeth May for To Cage a God. But as much as it pains me to say it, this one just feels mediocre at best. I'm not as invested with the story as I would have liked. I love the banter- classic Elizabeth May style I've come to know and love. The characters were... fine, I guess? The end was rather anticlimactic. Although the last part hinted at action-heavy plot for the next book.

To be honest right now I'm just happy I could finally cross this off my reading list. I don't know if I'll be reading the sequel.

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"To Cage a God" by Elizabeth May is an engrossing dark fantasy novel set in an Imperial Russia-inspired world, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo's "Shadow and Bone". Centered around sisters Galina and Sera, who are imbued with the powers of bound gods, the story intricately weaves themes of rebellion, love, and political intrigue. Their deep sisterly bond and complex relationships, especially Galina's tender romance with a princess, add emotional depth to the narrative. Despite some pacing issues and under-explained magic systems, the novel's rich world-building and character dynamics make it a compelling read for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Sara El-Arifi. "To Cage a God" balances romance and fantasy elements effectively, marking a notable addition to the young adult/new adult fantasy genre.

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To Cage a God is a YA fantasy novel set in a land inspired by Imperial Russia. I love fantasy that is based on actual time periods and locations, so was excited to read this book!

Anddd it wasn't for me. I ended up DNFing at 17%. I was trying to get to 25% but couldn't do it. I was reading it on my computer Kindle app at work (shhhhh) and kept going back to doing work because I'd rather work than read this book. I think this is because it was partially too brutal for me and I didn't really understand what was going on. It's based on the Russian revolution so I expected some violence, but it's pretty rough. I just felt like I was reading about suffering characters and often decided to go back to the lesser suffering in my own life than read more (I told you I was reading it at work lol). I feel like the world/god system could have been cool, but I couldn't get past the constant suffering to want to know more. And the other stuff didn't hook me enough to justify the violence. It is also just really firmly in the YA category, which also isn't usually my thing.

This was a miss for me. If you REALLY don't mind a lot of brutality in your books, give this a try! 2 stars. Thank you to DAW and NetGalley for the electronic advanced reader's copy of this book, my thoughts are my own!

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3.75/5✨

I have to start my review stating that I received an advanced reader copy through NetGalley.

To Cage A God

I was pulled into this book by the reviews and synopsis. I have to say that the likeness that was said to shadow and bone is off, I would give it more a six of crows vibes.

This book was not hooking me in while I was reading it, it took me days to get to 30%.

The Russian inspiration is pretty limited to conversation/language and building descriptions. That being said, most of the secondary language being Russian is hard to mentally and physically pronounce since I am not fluent, I feel like I was saying character names different every time. That’s a me thing, but it made it harder for me to connect with first/middle/last names being brought up often.

The premise of the book is insanely interesting and we love some bloodthirsty fmc’s.

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To Cage A God is the first book in a romantasy duology from Elizabeth May. It’s pitched as being for fans of Fourth Wing and Shadow and Bone. Now, I haven’t read Fourth Wing, but I can definitely see the Grishaverse connections. This is an Imperial Russian-inspired setting fueled by a ruthless political system. Magic—or godpower-–is only in the hands of the ruling class. Or, it was supposed to be. The sisters at the heart of this story also have gods in their bones; literally. And they are determined to set generations of wrongs to rights.

I struggled with this one at the start. Maybe I’m just out of practice reading fantasy (it has been a while) or maybe there were some growing pains in getting all of the pieces in place. There is a lot to learn. Our sisters, Sera and Galina, start separated from each other and the main setting of the story. It takes a few chapters to not only get them together, but to get them back into the thick of things. At the same time, the reader is learning names, locations, history, religion, a magic system… all the components of a new world. This is part of fantasy, I understand, but it did make me nervous about the rest of this journey.

I didn’t need to be. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by how invested I became. Once the characters were more established and the plot was going, I was hooked. The scale is perfect. You aren’t thrown into a large, full-scale rebellion. It’s one city. One goal. At least, with our sisters it is. There are other rebels who have… other plans. And one of those rebels is very important. I said this was a romantasy, right? Enter Vitaly.

Vitaly… he’s an incredible romantic interest. Dangerous, charming, a bit of an asshole. A rebel leader with a passion for his cause, his people. And also: for one particular woman. The reader is introduced to Vitaly through Sera. Because they were together, once. This romance did not go the way I expected. At all. I really thought I had this one pegged. I assumed the tropes that were at play here. I have never been so happy to be wrong. I loved this romance. I don’t want to say any more about it, just, experience it.

Sera isn’t the only character with a romantic arc, though. Her sister Galina also finds someone of interest. Since it is in the official synopsis, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that it is the princess. It’s pretty hard to have a relationship when you’re lying about who you are. It’s even harder if you’re lying because you want to overthrow your crush’s mother. Vasilisa is a wonderful inversion of expectations. The princess, locked away. But so much more. One detail I really appreciated about her character is that May created a fantasy setting that does not erase disability. Again, I don’t want to say too much.

I really thought my fantasy era had run its course. I worried I wouldn’t be able to dive back in. But this book was exciting. It was adult, it was dark, it was compelling. I thought I knew exactly where it was going, but May did not take the easy road to drama. I can confidently say I will be reading the second book in this duology. I want to know where we go from here. I want to see this world and these relationships develop. Stick with it, it pays off.

To Cage A God arrives on shelves February 20, 2024 from DAW Books.

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