Review: “Gild” by Raven Kennedy

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Okay! Okay! I admit it! I was sucked in by a pretty cover and I absolutely, positively could not help myself.

After seeing an extraordinary amount of hype around the third installment of Raven Kennedy’s Plated Prisoner series, “Gleam”, I knew I had to give “Gild” a try. 

I will start off by saying that I haven’t, in recent memory, been this conflicted about something I’ve read.

First, let’s get into into the plot. Our story follows Auren, the gold-touched King’s favored. She lives in a gilded cage inside King Midas’ walls. Her life is a lonely one, where she’s kept separate from everyone. Including King Midas’ saddles (as I have come to understand they’re like indentured sex slaves?), who satisfy the King’s every sordid desire. Her lover, her savior, her captor. 

I don’t like to include spoilers in my review, so I’m trying to be very careful about what I write. The bulk of the plot is wrapped up in Kingdom intrigue and, long story short, Auren ends up taking a trip across the Orea countryside leading to cliff-hanger results. 

After the first two pages, I was incredibly interested in what fellow reviewers on Goodreads had to say and, boy, was that a mixed bag. I scrolled and I scrolled. Five stars, five stars, two stars, one star. It went on like that for quite some time. Almost exactly in that order, too! 

After the first two pages? I got it. The beginning of the book is the most important and I was… well, woefully unimpressed. I  had even lamented to friends, insisting that I didn’t think I could read it. I believe it was a line about snow being cold that had my frigid New Yorker heart to explode in frustration. 

Bluntly, the first two pages left a lot to be desired. The writing was rough. And, likely for shock value (or maybe to paint a vivid life of Castle Harem life), you’re plummeted into a grotesquely descriptive orgy. It wasn’t sexy. It was primal, it was degrading and, if I’m to be honest, made me quite uncomfortable.

Then, I said, “you know, Ivy, this is unfair. Give it a bit more time.” And to be honest, I’m somewhat grateful I did?

My biggest gripe was the writing initially. If I’m to be honest, it was a complaint I had throughout. There were these pockets of beautiful, eloquent prose. And then there were these sink-holes of overly familiar (immature) language that took me straight out of the narrative. But then! There were these beautiful, gleaming gems I was so very excited to see!

I took issue with the repetition, though. If you’re the sort of reader who cannot stand to see things repeated, “Gild”, simply put, will not be for you. You will be reminded, ad nauseam, that Auren is gold. Not only is she gold, but she is the King’s favored. Not only is the King’s favored, but no one is allowed to touch her. And also, she has these prehensile ribbons that hang from her back. Ribbons that can braid her hair and stop her from eating shit when her carriage is tipped over.

I digress. 

The reviews I read were absolutely scathing. The bulk of what I read was that people took issue with the way the women (“the saddles” as they’re called in “Gild”) were treated and, frankly, I cannot say I blame them. It seemed like it was a lot to swallow for them. And really, me too. The book does come along with a trigger warning:

This book contains explicit content and darker elements, including mature language, violence, and rape. It is not intended for anyone under 18 years of age. This is book one in a series.

Goodreads

If any of this offends you – your limits will be tested. I would just say avoid this book altogether.

If you’re someone who reads romance for purely escapism purposes and you’re looking for a HFN or HEA? Don’t bother. This is not the book for you. 

If you’re someone who enjoys trauma porn and darker themes, this might be a series you’d be interested in. 

I still don’t know how I feel about the book. I feel like it was well written (for the most part). I did like the story and I do have lingering curiosity about what could happen next book in the series. Especially after that cliff hanger.

I will be reading the second book, “Glint”. Or, at least, giving it a go. I am more forgiving of first books in series, as the writer is often still trying to find the voice of the story. Hopefully the grievances I had will not be as prevalent in the next installment. I don’t know that I’ll feel passionate about finishing the story, though. Who knows, maybe I’ll fall head over heels with it and it will be a surprise for all of us!

You can find Raven Kennedy on her personal website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and TikTok!

Have you read, “Gild”? What are your thoughts? 

Let me know in the comments below!


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