Envy is doing a pretty good job of following in her mother’s footsteps as a thief, until her pride and ambition get the better of her. Caught stealing from the King’s daughter, the guards throw her in an inescapable tower and leave her for dead. Suddenly all the childhood stories she thought were only myths- like the Blackbird King, patron of thieves- are coming true, and the things she thought she would never have are within her grasp.
Much like Bishop’s previous novel, One Solstice Night, this is a beautifully written and original fantasy romance novel. Bishop’s passionate writing style fits her subject matter, managing to be poetic without feeling overblown. Her writing flows, drawing the reader easily into the current of her book.
Envy is an endearingly imperfect protagonist. Much like her friend Belinda, I felt a combination of amusement and concern for her from the beginning, which made the story immediately engaging and lent it some tension. However, I did end up feeling that she was really the only well-developed character in the book. Merle remains mysterious throughout, even when she eventually tells Envy what her secret is, and much as I liked the Haglin and the Blackbird King, I really wanted to know more about their background. I think if we’d gotten more backstory it would have greatly enriched the main plotline.
The story itself is great fun and a lovely romance. Bishop’s books are the sort of tales you would like to cuddle up with at the end of the day with a cat and a cup of tea. There is a sense of hope and faith in the eventual triumph of good that is refreshing in a cynical age. The trade-off is that that they can also come off as a bit frivolous, skimming the surface of deeper waters and more complicated situations. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though- sometimes a happy ending is what you really need, and in that case, this is the book to turn to.
Title: Cage the Darlings
Author: Elora Bishop
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Publication: CreateSpace; November 21, 2011
Price: $9.35 (paperback), $4.99 (e-book, all formats)
Author’s Website: http://elorabishop.wordpress.com