William Prinzing, affectionately known as “Prin,” is a grade A student and star soccer player, with his sights set on a position at Gotham Pharmaceuticals. Between studying and sports, Prin has little time for anything else, despite also running his own landscaping business, of which esteemed philanthropist Damien Gotham is the latest client.
Lucci was twelve when he was bought from his parents and taken from his trailer park home to Tower Estate. Over the eight years Lucci has lived there, he has been molded into Mr. Gotham’s idea of the perfect son, through various methods of abuse.
It is Lucci’s sadness and beauty, and Prin’s kindness and friendship, that draws the two young men to each other — but for their feelings to develop they have to break all the rules, which could put both of them in danger.
In a Gilded Cage is a perfect example of a fractured fairy tale with a gay romance twist. Mia Kerick draws on all the expected elements of the traditional genre in her retelling of Rapunzel, including Lucci as the trapped protagonist, Prin as the romantic hero, and Mr. Gotham as the twisted villain. The abuse Lucci is subjected to elevates In a Gilded Cage from a childhood bedtime story to one suited to a more mature audience, whilst the ages of Lucci and Prin and their relative innocence mean the novel is appropriate for new adult readers.
Aside from In a Gilded Cage being classified as a fairy tale retelling it is unclear where it falls in the gay fiction genre. Whilst Kerick makes it clear that Prin has had sexual experiences with girls, Prin himself asserts that he is not interested in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, though he also admits that his feelings for Lucci confuse him:
I want to be more than friends. Does this make me gay? Or just gay for Lucci?
So, is a In a Gilded Cage a bisexual story? A gay for you story? Or just a straightforward gay romance? I will leave that up to you.
In a Gilded Cage‘s real beauty lies with the vulnerability of Lucci and Prin and the way that Kerick allows them to express themselves, moving seamlessly between their narratives, but at the same time keeping their voices very individual. Lucci is childlike in his wonder, having been locked away from the world for eight years, with only Mr. Gotham and his three servants as Lucci’s other companions. Ironically, he is also eloquent, “proper,” and very straightforward. I think that the reason we do not find the details of his abuse more traumatic is because Lucci is detached from the events:
But as Father sometimes says, I am a clever boy. Knowing I cannot survive on such meager rations of food and water that he has been providing since the night I insulted his pride, I finally broke down and expressed the required sentiment.
Prin’s narrative is busier, full of expression and emotions. Initially, Prin appears self-centered because of the way he speaks about his goals and future, but as soon as he meets Lucci the change in him is apparent. He becomes less concerned with himself and recognizes this:
Something is changing in me. The things that used to be vitally important have slid to the back of my mind, replaced with Lucci.
In my opinion, the only downfall in this novel is the later chapters in which the pace of the story felt rushed, compared to earlier. There is no doubt that I wanted to see if Lucci and Prin were given their happily ever after, but on the other hand, I did not want to feel as though I was racing to get there.
Overall, In a Gilded Cage is a touching romantic story which reminds the reader that sometimes love is the key to freedom. A definite recommendation from me!