REVIEW: To Cage a God by Elizabeth May

To Cage a God is the latest adult fantasy offering from Sunday Times bestselling author Elizabeth May. It is a Slavic inspired fantasy steeped with gods, magic, and some romance. It has some dark elements which I think might appeal to the Grimdark Magazine crowd, and although overall I enjoyed reading To Cage a God, it is not one of my standout favourite reads of the year so far.

To Cage a GodIn To Cage a God our main focus is on two sisters, Galina and Sera, who as a result of their mother’s horrific experimentation on them as children, each now houses a violent god inside them. Both women are able to access their gods’ powers, but pay an increasingly higher price each time they do. Not to mention that this caging of gods is only meant to happen to the ruling classes so Galina and Sera are in a permanent fugitive state. Raised to be weapons in the revolution their mother planned, now she is gone they must create their own rebellion to over through the Empress or die trying.

Although To Cage a God is touted as a ‘romantasy’ novel, this seems a little unfair as any romantic relationships in the novel are secondary to the bond between Galina and Sera. Also, other than some yearning stares and flirtation, there are no intimate scenes until maybe the last quarter of the novel. The romantic storylines are important, but not the most important part of the plot in To Cage a God.  The plan to infiltrate and overthrow the ruling class was my favourite aspect of the novel and it was this intrigue and tension which kept me reading. I also enjoyed the magical as I have never come across a similar magical system before, it felt new and also held my interest. It was also an easy read in terms of being able to dip in and out of. Pacing was good, chapters did not feel over lengthy, and although it was a multiple POV novel I was able to keep everyone straight in my head and move between the perspectives with ease.

Unfortunately, the other parts of the novel did not give me that same feeling of finding something new. Tropes and clichés exist in writing for a reason, and May has used them well, but it gave the experience of reading To Cage a God a sense of predictability which tempered my excitement. We have the heroine fighting for the good cause and an anti-hero who is the embodiment of chaos and hates everyone expect for the heroine. There is a scarred and traumatised fighter giving it one last shot for the greater good. The hidden away princess, who is not quite kept in a tower, and the disgustingly wealthy nobility who live a life of luxury whilst the peasants starve.

I would say my overall experience with reading To Cage a God was a positive one. I liked the story, the characters, and it was a fun read. It may not have kept me up reading past my bed time, but I when I got to the end of the novel I did not feel like I had wasted my time by reading it. To Cage a God might not have pushed all of my buttons, but it might be a great read for someone else so definitely worth giving it a try if it sounds like it appeals. Thank you to Elizabeth May and the team at Daphne Press for sending me a copy of To Cage a God for review.

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Fiona Denton

Fiona Denton

Fiona is a former secondary school teacher and current stay at home parent to two very wild and active children. She lives with them and her husband in the UK and can often be found on a beach paddling in the North Sea or stomping through a forest with the sprogs and hounds. She loves to read and has always enjoyed fantasy novels, particularly the very dark and twisty ones with mythical creatures.