Cover Image: To Cage a God

To Cage a God

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Member Reviews

A very engaging, if sometimes brutal, fantasy book with Russian setting and multiple POV.
Thanks to both @bolindaaudio and @dawbooks I was given the ALC (audiobook) and eARC (ebook). This way I could both listen to and read the book, which was a great experience.
The story is really well paced and is extremely gripping in both reading and listening to. The narrator of the audiobook does a really good job to transport the vibe of these hugely different characters.
Speaking of characters, they are the real strength in this narrative. There's the sisters Sera and Galina, both burdened with huge trauma and with gods caged within them - dealing very differently with their situations. There's Vasilisa and Vitaly, the respective love interests - both real strong on their own, and also giving the relationships tension, passion and angst galore.
There'sKatinka, a side character of sorts but with her own POV and a great albeit brutal story of her own - and even more side characters that are interesting.
Everything is set in Imperial Russia, which is already giving this harsh, dangerous vibe. And as one can guess, the story at heart is one of resistance and rebellion.
I think this is a standalone, which works perfectly. I'd also gladly go back into this world to get some more of these people I came to love (or hate).

4,5/5 stars and a huge recommendation.

Thank you @netgalley, DAW and Bolinda for the ARCs.

#ToCageAGod #netgalley #bookstagram

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Please this was one of the most immersive and entertaining fantasy books I've read in a while 😭 the whole cast of characters were so interesting and wholesome, and I was rooting for all of them! I loved the slow but relevant way each new MC was introduced, and the complex dynamics between them all were handled so well. I cannot WAIT for book 2!!

TWs - war, violence, mass murder by a person in power, alcoholism, chronic illness, weapons of mass destruction, injuries, slavery

-- ty to the author, the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced copy!

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4/5 stars

The tale of two sisters who were victims of a caging god experiment and their journey to a revolution.

Things I enjoyed: Shorter chapters made for a quicker read. I did appreciate multiple character points of view. The story read far quicker once I was 45% through. I enjoyed the slow burn of the F/F relationship. The main female character, Sera, loosely reminded me of Aelin. She always had these grand schemes that the reader was not read into. The book did not end on a cliff hanger!

Other comments: I was pretty lost at the beginning. The introduction to the world and gods/dragons was not very well explained. It did get better as the book went on but I felt like I was trying to catch up. I'm also not sure why gods/dragons are interchangeable. Seems like it would have been enough to pick one or the other, my mental imagery was inconsistent because of this. I would not compare it to Fourth Wing at all.

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Hmmmm, I'm not entirely sold on this book, and I think it's primarily due to the writing style. It felt clunky and didn't utilize solid worldbuilding throughout, and the result was a book I was able to fill in the gaps due to the feeling I'd read this sort of fantasy before.
I will admit once I got accustomed to the writing it became enjoyable, and I enjoy the two sisters POVs. However I do not think this is a series for me anymore. I'm sure it'll find it's home with the right readers though!

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Thank you to NetGalley and DAW for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Pub Date: February 20, 2024

3.5 Stars. I really enjoyed the concept and the world but the writing just didn't pull me in unfortunately. There was a lot of repetition in some places which really bogged down the story (yes, we already know x about this character as it gets mentioned multiple times/every time the character has a chapter). I think I would have enjoyed this more if I read it in junior high/early high school. That said, I will probably continue reading the series to see where it goes and how the writing evolves.

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absolutely gorgeous romantasy. the sisters had an awesome relationship and a fun set. Vitaly was very very edgy (and at times a bit TOO edgy) but it still worked, and the princess was awesomely fun. the romance was gorgeous, and the fantasy setting was excellent. nice work. thanks for the arc.

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I had high hopes for this one, especially since I really liked other books by the author, but this one fell short. I really should stay away from Romantasy, it's constantly disappointing.
I had problems with this one right from the start. The first thing I noticed was that it explains everythig. Immediately. Nothing is a mystery, nothing is implied, there's no intrigue at all. It's all just presented straight to you, and not even particularly well. It's just stated. And do you know what that leads to? Exact, the book is boring. I was bored the whole way through. For a book with a rather interesting premise that is quite the feat. But everything just feels standard and tired. Of course in a Romantasy book the focus is on the relationships and characters so let's look at those. At the beginning the sibling bond between Galina and Sera was interesting but then they are apart for most of the story so that doesn't go anywhere. And the romantic couples have no detectable chemistry whatsoever. I appreciate the inclusion of a sapphic couple but they are incredibly underdeveloped and the insta-love was also not great. The other couple feels like it's only the way it is so you can tag this book lovers to enemies to lovers.
Next complaint: The villains are cartoonishly evil. In a way that is so ridiculous it takes away from the 'dark fantasy' vibes. They are so over the top, especially in the treatment of Katya that it ruins the atmosphere.
I will still give the book 2.5/5 stars because it was at least competence written and easy to read. And if you like Romantasy and can tolerate the characters better than I could you might like this more than me.

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Overall I really enjoyed this and would recommend it for readers who like darker but not grim fantasy, especially where relationship subplots inform motivations but for the most part aren’t relied on to move forward the plot.

The great: I really liked the two sisters who formed the main POV, I appreciated the general relationship arcs (though we really don’t need sex scenes right around torture and danger, have some decorum people). I liked the concept of the caged gods and how the magic system was implemented, and I thought the plot had a satisfying arc with decent pacing. Ultimately I was excited at the exciting parts, rooting for the main characters, and interested in finding out what happened, I really can’t ask for much more in a fantasy novel.

The not so great: The prose was a little clunky, especially in the beginning. Every once in a while you’d be plunked down into a new POV in a confusing way. A few times I lost track of whose POV the chapter was in. Plus, the world building is largely “the russian revolution with magic,” and the magic is a little hand-wavy. The villain is not exactly one dimensional but perhaps a little exaggerated.

But, for the most part, those were fairly minor issues. The characters and their relationships, especially between the two sisters, made it well worth my time to read it.

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To Cage a God contains pretty much everything I love in a fantasy & I can already tell that Elizabeth May is going to become a favourite author of mine. It's a dark story with dark themes, so I would definitely check out any trigger warnings before heading in.

Set in a fantasy world inspired by Imperial Russia, in their country the people starve while the royalty live in splendor thanks to their pact with God's centuries ago. Now every member of nobility is an alurea, someone who shares their body with a god who gives them, and the people who guard, them unimaginable power. But never has an alurea come from a peasant family... that is until now. Sera and Galina both carry the gods within them, though they both wish otherwise. Experimented on by their mother, they had no choice in the joining, nor what she made them do once their power was available.

Sera's god is vicious and vengeful, happier to see her in pain than to help her out in anyway and it's power comes with a hefty price. Galina had a softer bond with her god, but the things she was forced to use her power on made her resent it, hate it, and she has pushed the god as deep down as she can, covering up it's presence with alcohol. Both of these characters are broken in their own way. Sera, dealing with a vindictive god and never being able to tell the man she loves her secret for fear he would kill her. Galina having to live with what her mother made her do. But they also both carry hope, hope for a better future. One where the alurea no longer rule, where people cannot access that kind of power, a fairer world... they just have to make it happen. These two are sisters of circumstance, but I loved the bond between the two. Sera the sometimes vicious, but always protective older sister, and Galina the seemingly meek and reserved younger sister, but the one with the most power.

But Sera and Galina aren't our only two POV characters. We also meet Katya, the Empresses' handmaiden, a job title that changes with every day and mood. Someday's confidant, others footstool, Katya has had to watch the fifteen handmaidens who came before her die, including her older sister, and she is more than happy to help bring about the downfall of the ruling alurea. Her chapters are certainly some of the most intense of the book, despite her having no power, and most of her scenes taking part away from the action, but seeing this woman having to deal with the fickle moods of the Empress, knowing one wrong foot, word, could end with her death, it certainly made for some nail biting scenes. There are others, in fact there are a plethora of POV's, something which can sometimes be annoying, but I enjoyed the use of it in this book and thought it added to the pace and high intensity.

May certainly knows how to create a fantasy world, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the world building parts. The main plot did take a minute to take off, but the start never felt slowed down at all, rather I enjoyed the slower pace, allowing is to learn the history of the world and our characters, because once the main plot does start the story picks up pace and never really lets up. There's plenty of plot twists, action and romance to keep us entertained, and I loved the parts where we got to see our characters use the powers their God's allow them. But this is also quite dark and intense in parts, May gives is plenty of nail-biting, high intensity scenes where you're not quite sure everyone's going to make it out alive, and all of these thrown together made for a story I struggled to put down.

Now for the romance. For the most part I loved it, it's got a couple who have a penchant for murder and pain - couples who slay together stay together - as well as a sweet and steamy f/f romance that crops up around half way through the book. I liked the push and pull in these relationships, especially the f/f where even though one seemingly has all the power, it's the other who calls all the shots. What I didn't love so much was the timing of some of the sex scenes. Now i'm no prude, give me all the smut, but love, you have to know that not every moment is the right time to have a quickie. And I also didn't love the male love interest in some of the scenes, he was a bit too pushy and overbearing in some scenes, but that's just me. But if you like morally grey couples who will burn the world down for each other, you're going to love this.

All in all, To Cage a God was a fun, fast-paced fantasy filled with fight scenes, romance, and a little bit of smut. I especially enjoyed learning about the world, and the alurea, how they came to be etc, and after the absolute belter of an ending, am looking forward to picking up the second book.

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I’m sorry, but this book was so rushed yet could not capture my attention. A plush prison? From which she can frequently escape? It just all felt very convenient. I wanted to love it but it wasn’t for me.

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The only way I feel I can describe this book is - good enough.
I was very shocked when I learned this wasn't in fact a YA fantasy, because that's exactly what it felt like. Which isn't a bad thing! I don't know why the author is so convinced it's an adult novel to be honest.
”I have this under control." She was about sixty-five percent certain she had it under control.
“Coming from you, those words make me shit bricks.”

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I felt like this book was marketed as an adult Shadow and Bone that leaned a little more into romance/romantasy and thought it was partially true. The book reminded me a lot of Shadow and Bone in terms of the setting and class system based on magical powers as well as the political atmosphere. The characters had very interesting back stories and histories with each other but felt a little flat to me and I didn’t feel like I saw too much character development.

I think this is where the similarities end, as I had a hard time understanding and imagining how the magic system worked and it felt a little underdeveloped to me. This made it hard for me to understand the plot because I felt like the magic system was a little overpowered and felt a little too easy. We got very scientific explanations for some parts of the magic system but there are still a lot of gaps for the reader on how the magic works. This is a series and this may mean that more will be revealed later, but I am not sure I am hooked enough to continue.

I thought that the character relationships were the best part about the book and felt like it was more romance than Shadow and Bone but would not categorize the book as a romantasy read. I enjoyed the writing for the relationships between our main characters and wanted to see where they went and felt like there was some decent tension and build for them, but I wouldn’t say this would satisfy a reader if they are looking for romance.

The story is told in alternating perspectives of the main characters, which kept the plot moving.There was some info dumping at the beginning that made it a little hard for me to get into at the beginning but it wasn’t hard to read. I did feel like the plot was a little lackluster - there weren’t any big twists or things I didn’t predict and things were fairly straightforward. I felt like it was your typical rebellion plot to overthrow an abusive ruling class. There were some good action scenes but nothing too crazy.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fantasy read with good characters and relationship building but not to someone looking for an interesting or intriguing plot or a romance read.

I’d like to thank NetGalley and DAW for providing me with an eARC for my honest opinion.

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It took me almost a month to finish this one and I almost DNF'd it a few times because I got so bored and the prose is dull. The beginning of the book feels both slow and rushed; slow because not much happens for most of the book, and rushed because the magic system isn't explained very clearly and the politics are very confusing. It's also unclear to me how the alureans end up with zmei inside of them, even though the process of caging a god in a commoner was explained about 3 times throughout the book.

There was just one character that I was interested in at first (Vitalik) and my enthusiasm died when the principle he lived by shattered instantly. It's not really enemies to lovers, it's just miscommunication (one of my least favorite tropes). I'm trying to keep this review spoiler-free, so all I can say is that if he stood by what he believed in, the story would've been a lot more interesting.

All the characters are immature and most of their choices are questionable, and the whole thing reads more like YA than Adult. The book is full of clichés and it's all very formulaic, unfortunately.

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This started a bit slow, got real exciting in the middleish, and then unfortunately got bogged down with too many sex scenes about two-thirds through until the ending happened real quick. I'll still consider reading the second book, but I'm disappointed this didn't live up to the potential it had.

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Contrary to the book's title, no gods are caged in the making of this book. Instead, this is more of an Anastasia retelling/Russian revolution retelling in a fantasy setting. I did think the caged gods were a fascinating bit of world building, especially with their different relationships with the humans who caged them.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the arc! Opinions are my own.

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this was just, okay. this book failed to hook me. it’s advertised to be similar to fourth wing but this book just failed. there’s issues with the flow of conversations, i struggled connecting with any of the characters. it felt very YA when its supposed to be adult.

overall not for me, which is sad bc i love the russian lore and the magic.

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I really enjoyed this! It was a excellently crafted world. The plot was intriguing and both the romances were well developed. Exploring the new blooming relationship between Galina and Vasilisa and the passionate more experienced relationship between Sera and Vitalik. I really like their dymanic of past lovers reunited again after they left each other and just exploring their history along with the present plot.

The plot was great with the overarching issue of the gods being caged inside the alurea, I'm excited to see this explored more throughout the ongoing war. I was curious that we didn't see the revolution against the tyranny of the empress, as a much larger force of people. We only really explore the whole revolution through four major character point of views. This seems small for a revolution, and it was referenced they have other allies and spies e.g. Anna so I'm hoping more notable characters will come in to play as part of the revolution. I imagine they have much larger secret forces that are unexplored.

Katya was a great POV to read from to experience her suffering. When the chapters between Sera and Galina were back to back of them getting it on with their partners, and then we had poor Katya stuck in the prison cells, it was rough this whole book for my girl until the end. I love her character and can't wait for her to be explored more outside of being the Empress' handmaiden. (Also the relationship between them was explored well, the dynamic of a empress and her slave, portrayed the abuse Katya had to endure).

Overall, the romances and the character work really carried this book. I can't wait for the next part of the series to see where it will go. 4.5 ⭐

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

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Oft. Where to start this review? TO CAGE A GOD was, for me, the very definition of a book of two halves.

We start out with the two sisters--Sera and Galina--and very quickly they each go off on their own plotline, pulling in other characters along the way (some of which get their own POV chapters too). These plotlines can be roughly (and without spoilers) taken as “infiltration the palace/nobility” and “freedom fighters in the city”. One of the storylines worked for me and the other absolutely did not. I actually debated DNFing the book pretty much all the way through, but the ‘palace intrigue’ plotline was just too interesting for me to give up on, no matter how frustrated the ‘outside’ chapters made me feel. I admit to skimming those from about halfway onwards.

My problem with ‘rebel fighters’ storyline was twofold.

First, Sera’s love interest, Vitaly. I hated Vitaly. And not in the positive, love-to-hate way the (almost comically) evil Empress Isidora is hateable, but actually wanting to reach through the book and slap him.

Second, I just didn’t get the sense, no matter what the writing said, that there was any larger context to Vitaly’s rebel group or the society/city they existed within. There was the palace, and then this vague, nebulous fog in which Sera and Vitaly acted with a little self-contained bubble. I don’t feel like we saw the citizens, the community, the contacts etc. that plotline needed to anchor it. Maybe everyone just gave Vitaly a wide berth?

On the flipside though, I was utterly hooked on Galina’s story – infiltrating Isidora’s palace and inner circle—and the two other POV characters we meet there – Vasilisa (the crown princess) and Katya (Isidora’s handmaiden, working with the resistance). This section was excellent, and I was always keen to get back to any one of these three characters. To be honest, if this had been the whole book, it’d have gotten a high rating from me. I loved Galina and Vasilisa’s dynamic, as it kept me on my toes as to who to trust, and I thought Vasilisa’s chronic pain was well-handled. Katya might’ve been my favourite character. She goes through a lot and I really thought it was fascinating that, in a world with fighters and magic etc. May managed to create a truly strong character who didn’t actually have particular powers or knowledge, just determination and endurance.

After a slow start, TO CAGE A GOD ends strong, and actually redeemed itself into something I was really glad to have stuck with. I see it’s the first in a duology, but I think you could read it entirely as a standalone, since I didn’t notice any dangling plot threads that would make waiting for the next instalment a chore. However, although it’s pitched as an adult fantasy, I do feel it reads more as upper YA, so that’s something to be aware of if it matters to you.

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TLDR; All in all, while this book could’ve been interesting, instead it was literally just written like shit. 3/10 for interesting premise and ultimately terrible writing.

There is legitimately no other way to describe this book than just aggressively poorly written. While the plot and premise of the book are interesting, and not poorly executed, Elizabeth May’s technical ability to actually write is dense, blunt, and disconnected. Reading this book felt like wading through a nonsense sludge of events that should’ve worked really well together, but instead had no actual coherence to them. While a scene would make sense in isolation, it felt like there was no lead up to anything, no foreshadowing, no discussion of the after effects of an event. Instead everything in the story just… occurs, and then we move on from it. On top of which each event isn’t given the necessary time to percolate in the readers mind, instead made far too short. Combined with the lack of aftermath of anything, this leads to the book feeling incredibly disjointed.

Another issue I had with this book are the character. Firstly, there are too many POVs. Perhaps if the book had just featured the POV’s of the two sisters it would’ve been tighter, instead the book features ~5 POVs, and most of them feel unnecessary and add to the poorly written effect of the book as the author tries to explore an event from as many perspectives as possible. Secondly, the characters are poorly written. I cannot express how much I absolutely hate Vitaly, and how utterly and irrationally annoyed I felt reading any of his POVs. I hate this man and his weird, arguably misogynistic, way of talking about his “wife.” I wish he would die in a hole.

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Received an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and its publishers.

I enjoyed reading this book but it did take a while for me to finish, probably due to me finishing a series I wasn't ready to part with. Very rarely do you get a Russian inspired novel which is set in a fantasy world. This book was made for new adult/adult, and would not be categorized as young adult. As an adult reading fantasy, I loved being able to read a book not from some teenager's perspective. There are two main romances in this novel and one being everyone's favorite trope. I get Throne of Glass vibes from this novel which I enjoyed as well. Overall, this wasn't the best book I have ever read but I will continue to read the series!

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