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Sovereign #1

The Gilded King

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In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.

Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, a boy who believes in fairytales that Julia’s world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.

But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.

Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.

One way or another, the walls of the Blue are coming down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do.

303 pages, Paperback

First published June 25, 2018

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About the author

Josie Jaffrey

36 books158 followers
I have always written stories, but it wasn't until I started the first book in the Solis Invicti series in 2014 that I really became obsessed with writing. I love to read, particularly where the escapism of the story is enhanced with an element of fantasy or science fiction. For me, writing is simply an extension of that journey, but I get to decide what happens next (though it's amazing how often the characters seem to decide for themselves what I'm going to write!).

I love to hear from readers, so please do get in touch through my website or via Twitter.

Thank you for reading!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 179 reviews
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,199 followers
September 8, 2019
4 stars

I actually liked it. For someone who hates vampires, I sure enjoyed this book a lot.

World Building - Phenomenal

Blue, last world's city and the forest of Red

Everything fits so good, the worlds blend, it is a delight.

What makes this book different from other fantasy YA out there is that it focuses more on the characters than the description of the environment. The main characters are so developed, in that level, that they feel so very real.

Would I read it again? - Yeah, why not?
Would I recommend it? - Of course
Was it worth it? - Yes, so worth it.
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,766 reviews589 followers
June 12, 2018
And they thought it couldn’t be done, but Josie Jaffrey proves the paranormal world wrong, again!
THE GILDED KING is a rock solid base for a new series and a simply amazing read from start to finish! Anyone on the fence about wanting to try another “vampire” tale, I say, DO IT! Dystopian, paranormal, dark and unpredictable!

Ms. Jaffrey deftly melds two stories into one through threads of brilliance without sacrificing either as she tells of two “worlds,” the Blue, filled with humans in what is the world’s last city and the Red, a wasteland filled with unknown danger and presumably, certain death.

In a world where the Solis Invicti are the ruling nobility, offering their “protection” and taking human attendants for blood, Julia has remained in the background until the day she is called forward to serve Lucas. But Lucas is different, a gentle soul and an unlikely bond forms that goes against all Julia has ever known.

In the Red, Cameron desperately searches for a lost queen, a lost friend, but what he finds on his journey, is an abomination to be feared by all. As a Silver, he may be stronger than the monsters he finds, but the Weepers’ numbers are growing and their thirst will only be quenched by human blood, the human blood of the Blue and there may be only one way to stop them, a way that is as deadly as the disease they carry and it may smell Green. But first Cam must survive the threat of a powerful traitor who wants him dead.

Follow the myths of servitude, the hopes of mere humans to gain favor with their masters and become immortal and the often raw and brutal realities of power and control. Is “living” in the Blue as captive slaves worse than escaping to the Red, freedom and certain death?

Told in the POVs of Julia and Cameron, two extremely strong and memorable characters, feel both of their emotions, their doubts and their insecurities, as well as their fears. Then feel the power of budding loves they both find, each with a being not of their kind.

Be part of their stories coming together in a high tension, razor-taut crescendo as the Red bleeds into the Blue, humanity has nowhere to turn, and the Silvers are ill-prepared to defend against the onslaught. Lies will be uncovered, a queen found, and an even greater battle is coming…In the heat of battle, a new age is coming…

Absolutely LOVED this fabulous read from Josie Jaffrey! LOVED. IT. Add this one to your MUST READ list!

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Josie Jaffrey!

Series: Sovereign - Book 1
Publication Date: June 25, 2018
Publisher: Josie Jaffrey
Genre: Paranormal Dystopian
Available from: Amazon
For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com

Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
906 reviews278 followers
March 7, 2019
Josie Jaffrey's book would fit in perfect with the style and format of books that TOR/MacMillian or Orbit publish. I'd also love to see some tweaks made by an editor at a large publisher as that would vault The Gilded King into five star territory. This is easily a good enough book to be picked up by a major publisher and I really hope for Jaffrey's sake it is!

The Characters
Fantasy books may seem like they are always based on the new worlds or situations created to those who haven't read too many of them. But those of us who have read more than we can count in the fantasy genre know that the best novels have strong characters and an interesting world that is along for the ride. The Gilded King is all about the characters. We have our (typical) slave girls, a vampire who isn't cruel (my Buffy self wants to write soul here, lol), and a vampire who is searching for someone in the Red. Between them we get the story of why the Blue exists, what the Red is like and what might happen if the two meet. Along the way we experience questions about morality, choice, and devotion. What would you risk to free yourself? And what would you risk to find someone?

The Supernatural
There's a lot of lore and history to learn here. You also have to quickly catch on to the set-up. In a nutshell, there is virus that infects humans and supernatural alike (the supernatural are more or less vampires and zombies but different names) but changes them in different ways. The 'Blue' is an area that is free of this virus with a severe class set-up. The 'Red' is more or less everything outside the 'Blue' that is more wild and deadly (so the Blue say). The use of commonly known 'monsters' like vampires and zombies with a twist is brilliant. We don't need to learn a whole new type or breed of human; instead we just need to learn the twist that Jaffrey has given her variation. And of course figure out the new names she's given them. I'm not telling you'll have to read it!

But not Perfect
I've been told recently that I am a tough reviewer and rater. I suppose that were I to consider that this is an indie published book I might give it 5 stars because it is excellent for being indie. But I refuse to rate books at different levels just because. I want to keep a standard for only rating the highest at 5. So here's the thing, Jaffrey is clearly a talented writer and I am really looking forward to more of the Sovereign series; as well as more writing in any realm!
What The Gilded King needs is a little bit of massaging in the middle, a little more connective tissue early on (I will admit to being confused on a couple occasions with the lore; and not in the way in which a reveal creates but because I just missed something), and finally just a wee bit of editing from a top professional. If these three things were tweaked this would be a story that could easily rival the likes of C.S. Friedman.

This is an exciting new voice in fantasy/paranormal genre. Not urban supernatural and not full fantasy; but instead somewhere in the middle and unique in it's own way. I just bought the second book and eagerly look forward to diving back into the world that Jaffrey has made. If you want vampires with a different taste and zombies inside a beautiful fantasy world feel, then The Gilded King is definitely for you.

I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Siobhan.
4,491 reviews469 followers
June 22, 2018
The Gilded King is the first book in Josie Jaffrey’s Sovereign series, and it sets the standard for the rest of this series extremely high. Honestly, I was addicted from the very first page and I cannot wait to dive into the future books in this series. In fact, the Sovereign series is a spin-off of Josie Jaffrey’s Solis Invicti series, and I’m rather desperate to go and grab those books now, too.

Being a spin-off series, I was somewhat tentative about going into the Sovereign series. Although it was advertised as working alone, I’m always nervous that I will miss links. There have been many occasions where I have picked up spin-off series and have missed many details as it wasn’t quite the standalone it was advertised as. The Gilded King does work fine as a standalone introduction to a new series, but I do feel as though readers of the Solis Invicti series will understand certain things better. There were many times when events were spoken of, and explained, which I thought were obvious references to the Solis Invicti series. As someone who is now desperate to grab A Bargain in Silver, The Price of Silver, Bound in Silver, and The Silver Bullet, I feel as though I know what to expect with some of the details. Therefore, I would suggest, if you’re someone who likes to know everything, read the Solis Invicti series first. If you’re happy events explained rather than reading the way the events unfold, then dive straight into The Gilded King – it really is a great read.

I’m a big fan of dystopian worlds when they are mixed with the paranormal we known so well from urban fantasy, and in this case it was vampires. Not our usual kind, though. With The Gilded King we come to understand a different vampire world to what we are accustomed to, we get to see a new way of vampirism. As a lover of vampire novels and dystopian novels, this book was exactly what I could hope for from a combination of the two.

We follow two stories throughout, that come to overlap towards the end of the book. Both were very different kinds of stories, but both were wonderful. Sometimes when there are multiple stories being told within a single book, I find myself wishing we were given the stories individually, but not with The Gilded King. I really enjoyed the back and forth, I enjoyed watching the way it slowly brought the different aspects of the world to life for me. I cannot pick which of the two stories were my favourite, as I enjoyed the characters and the events in both so much. I’m so excited to see where both stories take us next, and I’m really hoping the two will cross over some more in the future.

Honestly, this book had so much. There was action, there was drama, there was romance, there were twists and turns, and so many other things. Once I started this book I could not put it down, I found myself turning the pages at a rapid pace, desperate to see how everything came together. Upon reaching the end, with the information given to us and the way we’re left lingering with questions, I found myself desperate for book two in the series. Without a doubt, I’ll be grabbing it as soon as I can.

Overall, this was a wonderful read. In fact, this was one of those cases where my inability to hand out five-star ratings like the rest of the population resulted in a four-point-five-star read being rounded down. I honestly believe, though, after just one book, that Josie Jaffrey is more than capable of pulling a five-star rating from me, and I’ll certainly be reading more of her work in the hope I find another of those hidden gems of a five-star read.
Profile Image for Rebecca Crunden.
Author 17 books496 followers
February 20, 2022
This is the first book I read by Josie Jaffrey and I've since devoured so many of her other tales and I can't recommend her books enough! Her world-building skills are absolutely phenomenal and her characters are diverse, well developed and charming. In addition to The Gilded King, be sure to check out May Day and The Wolf and the Water!
Profile Image for Al *the semi serial series skipper*.
1,658 reviews671 followers
February 11, 2019

An interesting read that tells the tale of a plague that has spread across the world. Vampires are susceptible so they have built a haven where the humans are uncontaminated and used as food. Julia is one of those human. I liked Julia, though now that I think about it her character doesn't seem to have a lot going for her. I can understand that she is subservient to Lucas, her Master, but she didn't really have much of a personality.

The love story between her and Lucas was rushed, IMO. I wish the author had given us more to work on than the cooking and eating thing they had going on. I did like them together I just wish the relationship could have developed more slowly.

The other POV we had was Cameron. He is a vampire that has been searching for his vampire partner for centuries. He hasn't given hope finding her for his king who is entombed. As much as I liked Cam and Felix anytime it was their POV I got jerked out of the story. It took a bit to get into rhythm.

Again, terrific book. I am so hyped for the next one already. I can't wait to see what's going to happen.
Profile Image for Julie - One Book More.
977 reviews164 followers
March 12, 2021
The Gilded King is an immersive and unique dystopian novel that offers a new and fresh twist on vampires and zombies. The story is told from two different perspectives – Julia and Cam’s. I liked this aspect of the novel. Julia is a human living in the Blue, and Cam is a vampire who repeatedly travels into the Red. They are two characters from the same world whose paths don’t cross, so it’s like having two loosely intertwined stories.

The characters are well-layered and richly developed and include vampires, humans, zombies, and even a fiesty, fierce, and intelligent horse names Hades. I love Hades! Cam’s unpredictable horse has a great personality and adds some comedic relief during some otherwise tense scenes. Jaffrey skillfully creates characters (and animals) that I easily became invested in and wanted to learn more about.

Julia is one of my favorite characters. She is smart and strong, and she questions the world she lives in. She is not happy in the oppressive and restrictive world in which she lives, and she longs to escape the confine of the Blue. I love her fighting spirit and her desire to know and see more. I also like that she doesn’t cower from those with more power than her. This makes her a target at times, but she refuses to back down.

I also like that many enigmatic characters are shrouded in mystery. Throughout the story, it is unclear who can be trusted and who has nefarious ambitions. The only characters that feel reliable and trustworthy are Julia and Cam. I love when stories keep me guessing, especially when it comes to character motivations, and there are several surprising revelations in this regard.

I also really enjoyed the love stories! Julia and Lucas have such a wonderful connection, and I like how their story progressed. It’s pretty clear that they are drawn to each other, but both resist because of societal rules and their own fears. As they confront their reservations, they must decide if their love is true and worth fighting for. The scenes when Julia and Cam get to know each other, when Cam cooks for her and brings her into his private world are wonderful (and a bit swoon-tastic!)

Cam and Felix have a slow-building, angst-filled story, and I so wanted them to give in to their feelings!! Their relationship has so many obstacles, which makes me want to see them together even more! I love their chemistry and am curious to see if their bond will survive the events that unfolded towards the end of the book. Both relationships, Julia & Lucas and Cam & Felix) have their fill of secrets and lies, but the longing and desire are so palpable!

Another aspect of the story that I loved was the friendship between Julia and Claud. The women are very different and have almost opposing views on their society. However, they love and protect each other, and their loyalty and bond are unbreakable. I love how much they fight for each other and think there are great messages here about the power of friendship. Cam, who spends the entire book journeying in search of a missing friend, also shows how powerful the bonds of friendship are, as do the group of servant women led by Livia. Throughout the novel, Jaffrey highlights the positive impact friendships and found families have on one’s life.

The author also introduces some interesting and thought-provoking ideas about danger and risk-taking. Danger comes in many forms, and the characters in this story face many dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations. Just living in their world is dangerous. The safe world of the Blue is oppressive and inequitable and often leads to the demise of the less powerful. The world of the Red is unknown and filled with mystery and potential contamination. The characters spend time pondering which reality is worse – the unknown dangers of the Red or the known dangers of the Blue. It’s interesting to see how different characters view danger, the world around them, and the risks they are willing to take to achieve happiness.

The story is well-paced and has a lot of nail-biting action scenes. Political intrigue, threats to the Blue, attacks, journeys through the dangerous Red, kidnappings, rescue attempts, and more make for a suspenseful and intense read that I really enjoyed, and after that shocking ending, I can’t wait to find out what happens next! I think The Gilded King will appeal to readers who enjoy suspenseful dystopian novels with great supernatural elements and dynamic characters. Thanks so much to The Write Reads and Josie Jaffrey for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Bookphenomena (Micky) .
2,422 reviews384 followers
July 18, 2021
Humans 'v' vampires 'v' zombies
Parallel stories
Dystopia meets historical

I feel like I've possibly done this series starter a disservice on the one hand because this is a story that builds on a previous series. I think I would have understood quite a bit more if I'd read that previous series but with this being a book one of a series, I thought I would be okay. Overall, I found the world building confusing at times and I was jarred by my lack of understanding.

Those aspects said, this was a very character-driven story and some of these characters were ones to get behind. This was a tale with two stories running in parallel where Julia and Lucas were at the fore of the story in the Blue and Cam was at the fore of the story in the Red. It took a long time for these stories to intersect but I wasn't bothered by that.

While this was a dystopian tale that occasionally harkened back to our contemporary times, life in the Blue felt somewhat historical, ancient Grecian or Roman with nobles, servitude and a basic standard of living. I was most interested in Julia and Lucas in the Blue for these reasons, but still, there was a lot to get your head around.

The story did pull the threads together towards the end but I'm left with many unanswered questions that I'll have to read on for.

Thank you to the author for the review copy.

Find this review at A Take From Two Cities Blog.
Profile Image for  ➳ Anthony ➳.
342 reviews42 followers
June 23, 2018
Date Reviewed:
22 June 2018
This Review was first posted on Keep Reading Forward. If you want to see more, check out our other locations as well as here.

Check the blog for an excerpt of the book!

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

In the Gilded King, the Blue is the last city in the world and it doesn’t look like it is doing well. Julia serves the nobility of the city, even when she meets Lucas, some boy who believes in the fairytales they heard. Julia knows that there is no time for these stories in the Blue. However, in the Blue, not everyone is Human. While there’s the Blue, the Red exists just outside the Blue’s boundaries. In the Red, Cameron searches for a lost queen and ends up fighting a long-thought dead enemy on the rise. Either way, the Blue is in for an awakening.

I was approached by the author to review this book. When the book was first mentioned, I was told that this series is a stand-alone trilogy that takes place in the same world as her Solis Invicti series, a paranormal romance. My first thought there was no way I was going to read this. Paranormal romance is sort of not my thing. However, it was explained that this isn’t really a paranormal romance book after all, even though there is a few bits of romance in the book.

Although I have read a few paranormal books before, what really took my attention and made me want to read this book was the cover and the story of this lost queen. I wanted to know more about it and what was the significance of this lost queen. I was not really drawn to the Blue and the Red and what else was going on between the two areas, I was just drawn to this lost queen. This is was plot I was willing to follow.

Due to my deep focus on the topic of the lost queen, I wasn’t really aware of what else was going on, or I will didn’t commit everything to remember later on. However, what I saw was good, drawn out characters that made an interesting story between the two POV’s that were interesting. It definitely allowed some suspense to grow from switching to the other POV when something dramatic happened and left us waiting throughout the next chapter to know what happened next. I thought this was a good move.

It was interesting to see something I thought was a good book, even when it was not in my normal range for books I usually read. I did think this book was good to read, and I know bigger paranormal/fantasy fans will love this book as well. The Gilded King may be a short book, but this was an impressive book, overall.

While I am on the line of deciding whether or not I wish to continue the series for myself, I urge others to give this book a chance and discover the world it has to offer. It is really interesting, suspenseful, and dramatic, a good combination a book should have to keep it good enough throughout the entire story.
Profile Image for Lana  (Bibliomedico).
303 reviews251 followers
October 3, 2019
Check Out The Full Review On My Blog : https://bibliomedico.wordpress.com/20...
Thanks For the Writes Reads for giving me the chance to read this book and Be part of this Blog Tour.
The Gilded king was really a good read , I loved the world-building ( Even Though The prequal should be read first If you want to understand it well ) and “some ” of the characters , there were tropes that I already hate , that have been used in the story , But If others like them , then this book will be amazing .

The writing style of Josie Jaffrey is brilliant , gripping and engaging .

I finished this book in two days , the descriptions were good for my taste .

If you like vampires , then You should give this book a read .
Profile Image for Princess.
420 reviews77 followers
September 30, 2018
Zombies, Vampires, oh my! This is a fitting book for this time of the year.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Cam is searching the world over for the lost partner he can’t give up on. He gets a new tip and is off on a journey where he will find many things, including maybe love?

Julia gets to become an attendant. A job she never wanted. But will she fall in love in spite of herself?

Is the Red really what they want them to believe. Is the Empress as innocent as she seems? Where is Emmy and why is she special? Can the Primus wake up?

Profile Image for Tilly.
1,296 reviews150 followers
June 23, 2021
2 Stars

I did not enjoy this book. I found the world building to be terrible, the explanations of what was going on really poor and the characters really quite boring.
I realise that this is linked to another series and if I had read that then maybe The Gilded King would have been better. However it is written as a standalone series and so it should have been much clearer and more explanatory. I shouldn't be constantly confused and get even MORE confused as the book goes on.
In the end, despite loving vampire books, sadly I just didn't care about it all.
Profile Image for Fanna.
992 reviews506 followers
December 29, 2018
The Gilded King is a paranormal set in a fantasy world which Blue and Red are two parts of. The Red denotes the danger, the end, where toxins and creatures reside while the Blue denotes the safe place where people can survive--but not for long.

Julia is a servant to the Nobles--vampires made of silver and who suck on human blood to remain alive--and can’t wait to cross the line and jump into the Red. But the Red isn’t safe or that’s what everyone keeps saying. Absolutely despising the Nobles, Julia never intended to become a personal servant to any of the “heartless” beings. But fate decides to assign her to a young boy, Lucas, who has ideologies different (yet same) from her. Parallel to this is the story of Cameron who is a part of the Solis Invicti that have pledged to protect Blue, and sets out to find Emma--a part of this group who had gone missing.

The story is said from dual POVs and that makes it all the more interesting and in momentum by giving the readers bits from each of their journeys and leaving them hanging at appropriate times too. There are twists and turns that make it an all the more pleasurable read. The romance is one that develops gradually and doesn’t make you cringe or roll your eyes--you’ll only smile and gush about the new OTPs you would make. Also, there are gay characters and not only is their relationship portrayed in a ‘normal’ way but even the first-ever mention, in the book, of them being gay is so subtly done that it impresses me.

"You don't believe in magic, then?"

"Of course,", she said, "but just because I believe in one kind of magic, it doesn't mean I have to believe in them all."

Speaking of the fantasy world, you’ll find vampires and zombies that have been renamed to better suit the fantasy this book was aimed for, along with stories/fairytales about this world that immensely helped in the world building. In addition to the romance, there are other other relationships being well endorsed especially that of friendships. Whether it’s Cameron running to find Emmy or Julia sticking by Claudia (her best friend) through thick and thin, the friendships are to die for.

They clasped each other's wrists, and the bargain was sealed.

The action in the book is amazingly incorporated to not let the other aspects dull in favor of this but still make the readers appreciate it. After all, zombies can easily take a central frame but it’s nice how all the bits of the story were walking together in the center lane. The last scene (like many others during the entirety of the book) brought an adrenaline rush and it’s a cliffhanger that I would die on because it’s so good! Needless to say, I can’t wait to read the next book in the Sovereign series.

I received a physical copy of this book via the author herself but that doesn’t, in any way, influence the rating and/or my thoughts on it. Thank you so much, Josie Jaffrey!


The Christmas Stocking Tag - 10 Book Recommendations

Five Books I Read in 2018 That I Didn't Expect To Love But They Now Hold My Heart

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Initial Reaction: Loved it so much! It's the book that got me out of a reading slump so yes, it's amazing. Review to come.
Profile Image for Larissa (Book Bosomed Blonde).
227 reviews35 followers
June 20, 2018
Review on my blog

Well, that was a whirlwind of an adventure, if I’ve ever been on one! This book took me by complete surprise. I thought it was going to be a book about peasants and royalty but it was so much more than that. Way better than I ever expected it to be. Blood, bonds, centuries-old traditions with mysteries and secrets, this is a book that packs a punch.

Jaffrey has a very direct writing style. Told in the third person from the perspective of both Julia and Cameron, we get a take on two separate parts of the same world. Although we only see it from their eyes, we get a greater understanding of the situation our characters reside in, as mysteries slowly start to unravel. The transition between the chapters is extremely effective and somehow always relating to one another (even in completely different situations). It really is a very intriguing story and it keeps your attention all the way through.

The characters themselves are not only different “species” but different people in their morals and behaviour. I like that we get these two very different people as the text never confuses you as to who you are reading from. I do have to say that I enjoyed reading from Julia’s perspective the best. She is a very relatable, flawed character. While Cameron is true to his person, i just found him to be a bit boring at times, but that could be due to his years spent on the earth… You’ll know what i mean when you read the book.

The world itself is vast and ever-changing. I believe its set in the far future of our earth, where our species have diverged into two (at times three) separate breeds. It’s fascinating because you only learn about the world slowly and things only start to come together at the end when you nearly have all the information. I just kept reading to find out more about this intriguing world and I wasn’t disappointed!!

I haven’t read a book like this in a while and it is one I am extremely happy with. The story is a fast-paced political, mind-field with a vagueness that actually keeps you intrigued. With so many twists and turns, I didn’t know where we would end up, but it was one hell of a ride.

Release Date: June 25th, 2018
Profile Image for Darque  Dreamer .
372 reviews47 followers
October 12, 2018
The Gilded King is a story shrouded in mystery and lore. Touched with darkness, and thriving with excitement, it will draw you in and grip you until the end. For those looking for a vampire story with unique attributes, look no further.

This one was definitely a unique, interesting read. I really enjoyed the take on vampires, and the addition of a new virus that not only affected vampires, but humans. It was all very intriguing and really kept me reading.

There were several moments in the story that left me confused, though. I would have liked a touch more explanation to the world, and it's happenings. Despite this, there was something magnetic about the story, and it's characters, that kept pulling me back in.

I liked the interaction between Julia and Lucas. It reminded me a little of Beauty and the Beast. I also really loved Cam and his strength and drive.

There were a lot of predictable moments, but there was plenty of action and unpredictability that kept the story going. The fairytale-esque style history of the world really grabbed my attention, and the thrill of the story kept its pace until the very end. Even though I wasn't always clear about what was going on in the world, the excitement of the plot, and the strong characters really kept me drawn in. I'd rate it 3.5 stars and would definitely say it was worth a read!

Thank you to the author for providing me with this free e-copy in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Ezzy.
161 reviews48 followers
January 14, 2019


I was offered this book by Josie Jaffrey in exchange of an honest review.

I have to start with how much I loved this book. The story flowed on so nicely, it felt really natural to read about Cam and Julia. Everytime the POV changed to the other, I was swept in a whole other story for a chapter. Absolutely incredible.
I kept imagining how this story would make one hell of a TV series or a movie trilogy. The worldbuilding was incredible and I was continuously imagining a world somewhere in between The 100 and The Vampire Diaries/The Originals. That made the journey even more epic. My love for dystopian stories grew very recently and I enjoy every bit of good vampire stories and this book caught the best of both worlds.

I am not going to write a summary, because I enjoyed going in this story blindly and I think doing so gives you the best experience. Knowing the Blue is the city where the uncontaminated humans and a group of Silver live, and the Red is everything outside the borders of the last city on Earth. Just read and be surprised, it felt really good for me. Going in pretty much blind is something new for me, as I am usually too curious for the course of the story that I read very detailed blurbs, but for this one I thought not knowing was the best.

The only downside I felt about this book is that this trilogy is in the same world as the 4-part series of Solis Invicti and it felt like there was some detailed introduction missing to truly connect with some aspects of the story or backgrounds of characters and races. To compare it, it felt a bit like Six of Crows compared to Shadow and Bone. It perfectly fine as a stand-alone series and you get most of the things, but I feel like I will understand the world better if I read the Solis Invicti series sometime, just like what I had after finally reading Shadow and Bone nearly a year after finishing the Six of Crows duology. Nonetheless, still very well done.

I really recommend this book as it is a very well written story and I believe every fan of fantasy, vampires and dystopian worlds will enjoy this book with all their hearts! When I finished this book, and damn that cliffhanger, it was that the sequel wasn't out yet or I would have bought it the next day right away. I am also very excited to read the Solis Invicti series sometime soon, as I am in love with this world. Once again, I really recommend this book and can't wait for the sequel!

The Silver Queen is out on October 17th!
Pre-order on Amazon or buy The Gilded King on Amazon or Bookdepository!


An excerpt of the story, I really loved this scene:

At the very furthest point of the temple, at the end of the double row of pillars that processed towards it, there was a pedestal mounted on a stepped dais. A figure was laid out on top of it. For a moment, Julia froze, thinking it was a real person lying there, slumbering in the temple, but something didn’t fit.

The figure wasn’t breathing. It wasn’t moving at all.

‘Come on,’ Lucas said, leading her down the aisle towards it.

‘Is it a statue?’ she asked.

‘A tomb, really.’

As they walked, he snuffed out the lamps that lined the walls, until finally the only illumination came from the rounded alcove into which the dais rose. It was a bright island in the centre of the darkness, and in the middle of it the statue shone: a man, wearing fine clothing in an unfamiliar style, with a blanket of stone covering his body. His exposed skin was tinged with a sheen of gold that glowed like the walls of the temple.

‘He looks so real,’ she said, reaching out to touch the golden curls that crowned his head. They were slick under her fingers, so intricate they might have been moulded from a real person.

‘They say he was.’

‘You mean this is his coffin?’ The pedestal certainly looked like a tomb. It was wide and deep enough to accommodate a body.

‘No,’ Lucas said, ‘I mean that this is him, that this statue was once alive.’

Julia’s hand had been tracing the lines of the face, but now she snatched it away. ‘You’re not serious.’

‘I am.’

‘This is why you brought me here,’ she said.

‘Of course. You want to hear the fairytale, don’t you?’

Read more reviews on my blog:
Profile Image for Erin Cataldi.
2,204 reviews79 followers
July 9, 2018
LOVED this! I've been looking for a new fantasy series to start and this is even better than I anticipated. My only complaint is that I'll now have to wait for the rest of the series to be published! And I have questions! And I'm impatient! The Gilded King is the first book in the high fantasy series, Sovereign. In this dystopian Europe (think Shannara) Blue is the last existing city in the world. At the top are the Nobles, aka the immortals, and below them are the human servants that they rely on. Julia is a lowly kitchen servant, but all that changes when she is assigned to be an attendant to a Noble. Her perspective on her very small world is about to be drastically changed. Outside the Blue is the Red, a place where contagion reigns supreme and the remnants of civilization lay buried. Mere humans can never survive in such a wasteland... or so they're told. In the Red, a noble is out searching; Cameron has been on the hunt for Emma for centuries, but nothing will stop him from combing the wild forests of the Red. Alternating chapters show Julia's mortal life in the Blue and Cameron's immortal life out in the Red; little do they know that both their worlds are to be forever altered by forces outside their control. They are living in the calm before the storm. A fantastic fantasy read and I can't wait to continue the series!
Profile Image for Shay.
300 reviews32 followers
June 26, 2018
Wow. For those of you who were fans of Josie's first series, Solis Invicti, you are sure in for a treat with this one! This book takes place in the same universe as the other series. Everything that you loved about Solis is doublefold in Sovereign!!! Josie intertwines two worlds beautifully as she introduces you to the Reds and the Blues!

The Blue is the last standing city struggling to survive! Julia, a human, battles with herself for wanting to escape this life of servitude and take her chances in the Red while slowly bonding with her assigned noble Lucas.

Meanwhile Cam, a Silver, is seeking the whereabouts of the long lost Queen and in the process realizing a true threat to all.

Gilded King is both impactful and unpredictable! I was rooting for both Julia and Cam the entire way through their journeys. The way Josie weaves her tales is astounding I left this book hoping for a quick release of the second. I loved the real feeling of the characters, the tension peaking through the pages, and the rush of being drawn into such a powerful world!

I received an ARC from Josie and have voluntarily left this review.
December 28, 2018
I said I was going to stop picking up free books on Amazon because they inevitably disappoint me. This...THIS proved me wrong!

Fantasy mixed with paranormal mixed with post-apocalyptic. Societies ruled by vampires filled with ritual and decadence. Just...I picked this up on a whim and I'm going to be picking up book two today. For sure.
Profile Image for A Voracious Reader (a.k.a. Carol).
1,955 reviews1 follower
October 2, 2019
Book source ~ Tour. My review is voluntary and honest.

The Blue is the last city in the world where the Nobles can feed on uncontaminated humans. If a human goes out into the Red then they can never return to the Blue without running the risk of contaminating everyone. If the Nobles drink from a contaminated human then they lose their immortality. So they need to be sure no one wants to venture out into the Red willingly. Stories of how horrible it is out in the Red have grown with each decade that passes until the citizens of the Blue have no desire to brave it. But as with every long peace, there comes discontent.

This story is told mainly from two POVs. Julia who is a young woman low on the pecking order as a server who ends up becoming an Attendant to a Noble. An Attendant is someone who feeds the Noble. And by feed, I mean blood. Nobles are vampires who go by the name Silver in the Blue or Izcacus out in the Red.

The other POV is Cameron who is a Silver and part of the dwindling Solis Invicti, the elite military bodyguards for the ruling person/family. He has spent tons of years, like 100s I think, out in the Red looking for someone called Emmy. Most of the book there’s no explanation about her, only that Cam is going nuts searching for her and most everyone else has given her up for dead. Since there’s virtually no backstory for Emmy (I think she might be the old Queen?) I find myself not caring about her- whether she’s alive or dead or if Cam even finds her.

While this story is a different kind of vampire story and should have been enthralling, the lack of oomph makes it only so-so for me. Julia is wishy-washy, her friend Claudia is at times a too silly nitwit, but at others she pulls up her big girl panties and becomes someone I could get behind. Cam is just a moron. Sorry, but that’s how I feel. For a being over a 1,000 years old he does some really stupid shit. In addition, I read the 1st half of the book in a constant state of confusion. I had no idea what was going on, so the world building lacks for me. Maybe others are getting something out of this that I missed, but I’m not really interested in continuing with the series.
Profile Image for Shirley.
861 reviews195 followers
August 3, 2018
Original review

This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Josie Jaffrey!

The Gilded King
tells the story of Julia and Cameron. Julia is stuck in the Blue and needs to work as a server until she meets Lucas. Lucas believes in fairytales and Julia wants to believe in them but she can’t.
Cameron is looking behind the walls of the Blue, the Red, for their lost queen and discovers so many things, including a rising enemy…

The Gilded King is the first book in the Sovereign series, a spin-off series for the Solis Invicti series, and is yet another amazing book written by Josie Jaffrey. I loved reading the Solis Invicti series and I was so excited and happy when Josie asked me if I wanted to read The Gilded King!

I really love that Julia and Cameron don’t really have something in common, but you can still read in both perspectives. You get to know how people live in the Blue and how people live in the Red and how everything changed. I love the relationship between Julia and Lucas, but I don’t really know what to think about Cameron and Felix. I loved them so much but then the last few chapters kind of changed my mind…

I loved The Gilded King and I cannot wait to read the other books in the Sovereign series. I love Josie Jaffrey’s writing, so I know that I’m going to love all the other books!

The Sovereign series is a spin-off series and you don’t have to read the Solis Invicti series, but I do recommend reading it because 1. it’s amazing and 2. you know a lot more about the world Josie Jaffrey has created so it’s easier to read the Sovereign series. The Sovereign series also contains some spoilers for the Solis Invicti series, so I recommend reading the Solis Inviciti series first and then the Sovereign series.
Profile Image for Kristina (Books-and-dachshunds).
126 reviews63 followers
May 10, 2019
** Disclaimer: I did received a copy of this book from the author for review purpose. This has in no way, shape or form affected my opinion on it **

Full review on the blog!

This book was so good!! I was interrested in it right from the start, and it kept me on my toes ; awaiting what were to come, shattered my heart, to gasp in shock when a turn of situation happened. I particularly love how there’s both representation of homo and hetero relationship to the book, aswell as how Josie’s characters feel so realistic and having a dept to them. I’ve related so much to Julia, sharing her bad views upon herself and how she felt toward how perfect the goddess was, to falling deeply for Lucas with how sweet he was behaving.

The different point of view is always a favorite of mine, specially when you finally understand what tie the two together and why this side of the story needed to be explained. The fantasy genre has been upped in my taste and I consider reaching for more – and of course know the rest of this trilogy!
Profile Image for Sarah Eustache.
162 reviews7 followers
August 16, 2018
I was sent a copy of the Gilded King in exchange for an honest review. 

This is the first book that I read by Josie Jaffrey and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it!

This book kept me entertained the entire time I was reading it. It was definitely a whirlwind of adventure. Josie Jaffrey has a talent for writing and world-building! I do wish that I had read the Solis Invicti series first so that I could have been a little more filled in on the world (since both books are written in the same world). 

I am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I can't wait to know what happens to the different characters. 

I really enjoyed reading the chapters with Julie and Lucas. I loved the progression of their relationship. 

This series definitely had an apocolyptic-dystopian feel to it, but I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading young adult fantasy. This book is adventerous, romantic, and has so much action. It is unique and a page-turner!

Thank you to the author, Josie Jaffrey, for sending me a copy of The Gilded King!
Profile Image for rain.
610 reviews356 followers
August 27, 2018
3.5 stars actually

CW: abuse, slavery

Thank you to the author, Josie Jaffrey for sending me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.

When the author announced on Twitter that she needed bloggers to review this book, I immediately signed up. It's not an everyday opportunity when an author is willing to send her own book to an international country so I grabbed the chance at once! I don't even know what sorcery this book has because I was expecting it to arrive on September but it actually arrived earlier than that. Maybe it just got lonely inside its package and magically transported itself to the Philippines. THIS BOOK IS SOMETHING ELSE, FOLKS.

The Gilded King is the first book in the Sovereign series—a spin-off series to Josie Jaffrey's other series, Solis Invicti. It's a book of vampires, politics, blood and romance. Sounds interesting? OH YES.

• ‎Great world-building

The Gilded King is set in a dystopian world and is told in two different perspectives—Julia's and Cameron's. I'm in awe at how Jaffrey showed the stark difference of Blue and Red through these two perspectives. Blue is a world ruled by a social hierarchy that may be called oppressive. Red, on the other hand, is a contaminated land filled with mystery. I love how well-written these two places are and how you can easily get lost in them.

• V-A-M-P-I-R-E-S

I AM A HUGE VAMPIRE TRASH. It has been a long time since I read a vampire book and reading The Gilded King made me want to read MORE vampire books again. I don't know why I love reading about thousand-year-old dudes but just let me be, okay?? VAMPIRES RULE.

Anyway, I was surprised to find out that The Gilded King features my favorite bloodsuckers and I was more amused because Josie Jaffrey offered a different flavor to vampires. I won't say any more because I don't want to spoil you but trust me when I say that the vampires in The Gilded King will give you a different twist.

• ‎Adorable ships

I ship Julia and Lucas so hard my heart hurts. Their romance wasn't that well-established but it was still fun to read about them. It was adorable to see them fight their feelings and have those little nights at the rooftop. Felix and Cameron, on the other hand, had a more complex relationship. Their romance was slow-burning and I'm highly intrigued as to how their relationship will develop in the next books.

• ‎Yes to pure friendships!

I love love love Julia's friendship with Claudia. These two girls will definitely die for each other and I commend them for that. They have different personalities but they complement each other so well. There's also the matter of Tommy and Cameron. Their friendship wasn't focused that much on this book but I appreciate their brotherhood so much.


HOLY FRIGG THAT ENDING. Obviously I can't elaborate because I aim for spoiler-free reviews but allow me to tell you that the last 50 pages of this book will keep you on the edge of your seat. I need to know what will happen next. I need the second book. I NEED IT NOW.

This book is far from perfect but I enjoyed it nonetheless. There were a few confusing parts because lots of names and references were thrown and I just couldn't place them. I think it's because The Gilded King is the first book in a spin-off series and I think things will be clearer if I read the Solis Invicti series.

Anyway, The Gilded King is a book you will surely enjoy if you love paranormal romance, vampires, or dystopians.
Profile Image for Haadiya.
147 reviews74 followers
March 18, 2021
Let me begin with saying how much I loved this book. The story flowed on so nicely and it felt weirdly natural to read about Cam and Julia. Every time the POV changed to the other, I was swept off into a whole other story for a chapter. Absolutely incredible. I kept imagining how this story would make one heck of a TV series or a movie trilogy. The worldbuilding was incredible and I was continuously imagining a world somewhere in between The 100 and The Vampire Diaries which made the journey even more epic. My love for dystopian stories grew very recently and I enjoy every bit of good vampire stories and this book caught the best of both worlds.

The Gilded King takes place in a plague torn world where immortals rule and humans serve. The Blue City is the last while everywhere outside it is but a pandemonium. As The Gilded King is split between two narrators, the reader gets insight of both ways of life within the city and within the brutal forests of the Red.

This book tells the story of Julia and Cameron. Julia is stuck in the Blue and needs to work as a server until she meets Lucas. Lucas believes in fairytales and Julia wants to believe in them too but she can’t. Cameron is looking behind the walls of the Blue, the Red, for their lost queen and discovers so many things, including a rising enemy…

The Gilded King is the first book in the Sovereign series, a spin-off series for the Solis Invicti series, and is an amazing book written by Josie Jaffrey.

I love that Julia and Cameron don’t have anything in common, but you can still read in both perspectives and love their story. I love the relationship between Julia and Lucas, but I don’t really know how I feel about Cameron and Felix. I loved them so much at the beginning but not so much towards the end…I must mention that this book is one big trick. You think you know what’s going on, but you don’t. The author has tricked me many times, turning the plot around, folding it over itself, and presenting solutions I did not expect. What gives me hope for the next book is the last sentence Felix spoke in my head that can only be resolved with a cliche of “you betrayed me – but let me explain” and making up somewhere at the end of the tunnel. Maybe Josie Jeffrey has another twist in mind *insert thinking emoji here*.

I really loved this book with its lack of predictability, that heroes were not destined to be together from the start and the insanely stubborn and determined, but so very kind Cameron. I loved how scary it was at so many points, and how beautifully it would fit a zombie apocalypse genre if the author would just push it a little over the edge. I love Josie Jaffrey’s writing, so I know that I’m going to love all the other books!

I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition organised by the @The_WriteReads tours team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.
Profile Image for Chris Durston.
Author 17 books26 followers
June 14, 2021
I don't really read vampire stories. I don't really read romance or YA either.

So you'd think I would probably not read this book at all, let alone enjoy it, but what fun would the world be if slightly unexpected things didn't happen from time to time?

(Full disclosure: I got a copy of the book for free as part of a giveaway, and otherwise probably wouldn't have picked it up, but... turns out I'd have been missing out.)

So, just to get something out of the way, there were a few times I found myself flipping back to previous chapters in an attempt to remind myself of some detail that was suddenly being brought up again, or some character whose role was briefly explained but about whom I'd pretty much forgotten. Heck, there were at least two instances of this right at the very, very end, when things that seemed like they were some of the most important events went right over my head because I'd just totally forgotten if the significance had been pointed out earlier. Maybe some of this would've been ameliorated if I'd read any of Jaffrey's other books in this universe, or indeed if I didn't have a bad habit of just forgetting a heck of a lot of details extremely quickly. Who knows?

Either way, I don't think I actually minded all that much - it didn't hurt the experience as much as it might have done, perhaps because there's a fine balance here between the grand and the very personal. I get the sense that this book is setting up for things to move much more into the realms of the epic, the narrative turning its concern more towards the wider and grander scale - y'know, world-shattering stuff. For now, though, we're mostly concerned with the intimate: just a few individuals and their relationships to each other and (increasingly, perhaps) the world as a whole.

There are two main plotlines running throughout this book, and they only converge right at the end - and even then I'm not sure they ever really come together; it's more that they both lead up to the same climactic event, but that's not a criticism. It's a testament to how well they're both written that every time I finished a chapter and swapped perspectives, I was a little frustrated because I was eager to continue with the one I'd just come from. We see the world from two totally different views, each shedding a bit of light on the other, and it works really well; the story doesn't overstay its welcome, either, with things always seeming to propel along pretty nicely and with enough ongoing conflict to keep it in motion. I wonder whether the two stories would each feel too short if I just read them separately, but together they add up to what feels like just the right length.

I enjoyed this enough that I really want to pick up the next in the series now, and possibly even some of Jaffrey's other similar books, and I definitely wasn't expecting that. So if you're not a fan of the kind of work that shares a label or two with this, keep an open mind because this one might well still be up your alley.
Profile Image for Gayatri Saikia   | per_fictionist .
476 reviews68 followers
October 9, 2019

Vampires and zombies and a post apocalyptic dystopian setting were enough to drawn me in when I first read the synopsis of the book. Julia, whose parents were accused of treason by the kingdom of Blue and who abandoned her on the footsteps of the temple, finds herself assigned in a job she despises the most. An attendant/ server to candidate Lucas. Now it kind of gets confusing here what being a candidate entails for and the hierarchy and settings of the palace and the kingdom's various positions and stuff and I kind of found myself straining over minute details to actually get the gist of it. But now coming back to the plot, Cam is a silver blood/ vampire who lives in the Red and just as he makes his appearance in the book we get to know that he is in search of Emmy.

The Gilded King has a decent world building with a lot of subplots woven into one. Told between the point of views of Cam and Julia, we get to experience a whole lot of action, conspiracies and a considerable amount of court politics. Jaffrey manages to keep the dystopian vibe throughout and I absolutely loved that about it. I however found it difficult to attach myself to the main characters Julia or Cam, and could only honestly care about LUCAS. He is a gem okay! Also, Lucas narrating stories to Julia took my heart away, ooof I am weak. TOTALLY ship JULIA and LUCAS <3. Also, the friendship between Julia and Claudia was heartwarming and I loved how the author paired two different individuals together.

I could easily spot the different elements that I look for in a fantasy be it forbidden slow burn romance, not overly done action scenes and an atmospheric setting. I was however disappointed by the rather slow pace on the first part of the book and so much action on the latter chapters.

Considering THE GILDED KING had a unique plot, revelations that unfurled piece by piece and some of my favorite tropes, I found the book a rather enjoyable read and will definitely would pick up next in the series.

Note : After I finished the book, I learnt that there is a prequel to this amazing series and I would have definitely picked it up first, had I known earlier. It is clear that reading the prequel would have given me a clear idea of how the dynamics work in the kingdoms and would have definitely made the book more engaging and enjoyable.
1 review2 followers
August 19, 2018
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. This review is also posted on our blog here: https://classyxbookreviews.wordpress....

I'm so glad she reached out to us about it; this book (and the prequel series Solis Invicti) hadn't been on my radar yet and I'm so excited about them.
The Gilded King is the first book in Jaffrey's Sovereign series. One thought I had throughout this book was that I really wished I'd read the Solis Invicti series first. The Sovereign series is meant to be standalone but I had so many questions about the history of this world and the way everything worked. Usually I like when world-building is added gradually to a story. I hate when a book starts with a giant chunk to explain the basics of that world to you. It's frequently tedious and boring. With this book though, those details were added too slowly; I didn't understand important details about this world until very late in the book. This just left me feeling confused for a lot of it and I kept going back and rereading sections to try to understand.
That being said, once I understood the world better I really enjoyed how unique it was. We've all seen enough dystopians that start with terrible plagues and vaccines that have unforeseen consequences but I thought the twist with the paranormal added a lot to it. The fact that the cure for the humans made their blood poisonous to vampires was something I wouldn't have expected.
Another thing I thought was unique (at least from books I've read personally) was that humans have essentially become a slave race in certain parts of the world. There are still human settlements but in places where the Nobles (also called the Silver, depending on who's talking) live, humans are treated like dirt. They're called Servants but they have no rights. They're not paid for their services and they have no choice in what they do. When Julia's sent to serve Lucas, she's going so he can drink her blood and she's not allowed to say no. If they do, they're exiled from the city which, as far as they know, is a death sentence.
I liked Julia for the most part. She was tough and intelligent. I liked that she questioned what the Nobles told the humans. One of the biggest problems for the humans living in the Blue was that the only information they've been given for centuries has been what the Nobles wanted them to think. Julia doesn't always ask the right questions but at least she keeps asking them. The only thing I didn't like about Julia was her behavior where Lucas was involved.
Lucas was a good character. He's sweet, considerate, and tries to be true to himself even if it goes against the way Nobles are supposed to act. I was mildly annoyed that Julia happens to meet the only Noble who's kind to humans; it's a trope I'm a little sick of. When you have an entire race of people it's not logical to think only one of them is morally good.
My main problem with Julia and Lucas though is their romance. First of all, it happens too quickly. Julia's terrified of Nobles but is instantly attracted to Lucas and vice versa. Their relationship makes the mistake so common in YA, in that it progresses at an unrealistic rate. I also felt that I was being told-not-shown, if that makes sense. For most of the book, the romances (I'll talk about Cameron and Felix later) felt very forced. I was not emotionally invested in these relationships.
Cameron was a really interesting character. He's a member of the Solis Invicti, basically the guards of the Blue. For centuries he's been exploring the Red (anything outside the Blue) looking for the lost queen, his friend Emmy. I found myself sympathizing with him quite a bit. No matter how long it's been, he never gives up on Emmy or stops looking for her even when everyone else has. I've seen other reviews from people saying they were bored during Cameron's parts but I didn't have that problem at all. He was my favorite character so far.
I liked Felix for the most part. Seeing the difference between humans of the Blue and humans of the Red was really interesting. His attitude is bitter and resigned because he understands more about this world than others, like Julia. I particularly enjoyed seeing the contrast between them. He was also so mysterious that I just wanted to know more. His relationship with Cameron was also more believable, at least after the beginning. There was a sudden twist at the end about Felix (no spoilers, I swear) that I was extremely frustrated about. It just seemed so unnecessary.
Now to the part I loved: the plot. It was surprisingly intricate for the genre. There were times when I brushed something off as irrelevant or unimportant then it would suddenly tie into something later. It was also really cool watching Julia and Cameron's opposite journeys. They never meet in this book and a lot of what happens to one sort of parallels the other but they almost always have one-half of certain information and the other has the rest. By the end I was screaming "If they could just have a conversation then everything would be okay". It was infuriating but in a good way. I always like when I know more than the characters do. The ending also left me with so many questions half answered. It feels like this first book was just an opening for the second; it set the scene for all the craziness that's going to happen next.
I wasn't sure how much I liked this book and I definitely had some problems with it, but the ending made me really excited for the rest of the series. I think I'll read the Solis Invicti series before the next book comes out and hopefully that will solve some of my confusion.

March 22, 2020
Full disclosure: Paperback copy sent by author for honest review.

This book is genuinely an amazing, gripping, inventive, five-star read!

Vampires are my jam, but I haven’t read a great vampire book in soooo long (probably since Sunshine by Robin McKinley) because I like my vamps to come with world-building beyond ‘oh hey, we got bloodsuckers in New York/Paris/London – and they’re hot!’. Right away, with The Gilded King, it was clear I was getting a well-thought-out society with an interesting relationship between vampire and human culture. I thought the world-building was really unique, and combined dystopia with paranormal fantasy really well. It’s just so clever!

The main setting is The Blue, which is the only city left in the world after a zombie apocalypse. There is a vaccine against zombification, but it makes humans un-eatable for vampires, so these clever suckers set up a city where they keep unvaccinated humans safe so that they can be used as servants and as snacks. Josie has in fact written an earlier series in this world, which I haven’t read yet, which may go further to explaining how society got into this mess in the first place, but I found that everything was explained well-enough for me to get a hold on it and follow the story through the aftermath of the apocalypse. I loved the nods to the previous countries that used to exist, before everything went a bit undead.

The Blue itself is fascinating, with the tiers of society from Nobles (the vamps) to Candidates (humans who could deserve to be turned) to Attendants (humans allocated to vampires to feed them) to Servers (general human servants). Every element of the city’s workings has been thought out – and the city’s culture is a little bit Roman, too, which appealed to the classicist in me! The power of myth is also explored with the figure of the Gilded King himself, which you will discover as you read. This is a very well-thought out society.

All the characters are just fantastic. We have two viewpoint characters: Julia (a human who becomes a personal servant and vending machine for a slightly odd vampire, Lucas), and Cameron (a vampire in search of something important outside the safety of the city). I loved them both! Often, with multi-POV books, I end up favouring one character over another and rushing to get back to their chapters, but with The Gilded King, I was totally engrossed in both Julia and Cameron’s plotlines, and couldn’t wait to find out what either one was doing next.

Julia is a really wonderful, realistic woman, whose mistrust of the Nobles made me instantly connect with her. She isn’t taken in by the pretty trappings of immortality, unlike her best friend, and so it’s even more gripping to watch her get drawn into the tangles of her new life when she becomes Lucas’s attendant. And wow, Lucas is great! New book boyfriend for sure. He’s got that tall, dreamy vamp thing going on, but also, he’s a soft cinnamon roll romantic cutie pie gardener… I was rooting for Julia and Lucas to get together from the beginning, but no spoilers! I really, really loved that he was actually 20 and just learning how to be immortal. You see a lot of vampires who are hundreds of years old but look 17, and I always wonder why they would be interested in high-school age girls (looking at you, Edward Creepy). Lucas is of a similar age to Julia, and this made all the difference to me in terms of supporting him as a character.

Cameron, on the other hand, is actually hundreds of years old, and jaded with it. I loved his drive and his snark and his budding relationship with the mysterious Felix (gay vampire relationships YES PLEASE). Cameron’s plot line takes place mostly outside the city, so this is where we see a lot of the world-building come to life, and learn more about the way society fell. Having Cam’s eyes on this was a really clever way to avoid info-dumping, because he offers opinions on things rather than just remembering them. I can’t wait to find out more about him as the two story lines come together, as he feels more guarded than either Julia or Lucas.

The language is lovely: descriptive, but never purple; taut, but never boring. There’s a strong thread of suspense woven throughout the novel which kept me desperately flipping pages. (Sidenote, I raced through this book in about two hours and will go back and reread to savour it!) Honestly, I’m trying so hard not to spoil anything but there are so many amazing moments I could pick out that made me gasp – the tension was pitch-perfect. I was messaging Josie throughout whenever something took me by surprise. I didn’t realise to begin with that we were getting zombies, which I usually avoid (since they scare me to death), but while these scenes were heart-pounding, they never crossed into terrifying territory for me, so fellow zombie-haters, you’re safe.

It’s so hard to categorise this book, because it blurs the lines between so many sub-genres of SFF: dystopian, post-apocalyptic, quest fantasy, zombies, vampires, romance, mystery… I loved it. And I think anyone that loves any one of those elements should love it too. I cannot wait for the next book in the series to come out, and in the meantime, I’ll be picking up the Solis Invicti series to slake my thirst! I can’t wait for more of you to read this book so we can yell about it!

Five out of five stars for sure!
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