I’m back with another BBNYA blog tour hosted by @TheWriteReads and sponsered by The Folio Society! This time, I’ll be delving into a young adult fantasy by a well-known indie author that involves a post-apocalyptic setting, a mysterious disease, and vampires! I’m talking about the first book in the Sovereign series, The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey. This is one of the books I didn’t get to read as a BBNYA panelist last year, but I was definitely intrigued when it won 4th place!
But, before I get to the tour post, what is BBNYA? BBNYA (Book Blogger Novel of the Year Award) is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the 2021 BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website (https://www.bbnya.com/) or our Twitter account, @BBNYA_Official. If you would like to sign-up and enter your book, you can find the BBNYA 2021 AUTHOR SIGN UP FORM HERE. Please make sure to carefully read our terms and conditions before entering.
BBNYA is brought to you in association with the Folio Society (If you love beautiful books you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group TheWriteReads. I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition organized by the @The_WriteReads tours team. I want to thank them so much for sending me a free copy of the e-book so I could participate in the awards! All opinions are my own, unbiased, and completely honest.
Now let’s dive in!
“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.”
About the Author
Josie is the author of nine self-published novels plus short stories. She is currently working on a range of fantasy and historical fiction projects (both adult and YA), for which she is seeking representation. Ultimately, she hopes to be a hybrid author, both traditionally- and self-published.
After finishing her degree in Literae Humaniores (Classics) at the University of Oxford, Josie wasn’t sure what to do with her life.
She slogged through a brief stint working for an investment bank in London during the 2008 credit crunch, then converted to law and qualified as a solicitor specialising in intellectual property. She worked at a law firm for five years before moving to a UK-based international publisher in 2016. Whilst she loved law, in the end she didn’t love it quite as much as writing, which she now does almost full time.
Josie lives in Oxford with her husband and two cats (Sparky and Gussie), who graciously permit human cohabitation in return for regular feeding and cuddles. The resulting cat fluff makes it difficult for Josie to wear black, which is largely why she gave up being a goth. Although the cats are definitely worth it, she still misses her old wardrobe.
I have a confession to make, reader. Of all the classic horror novel “baddies” (think werewolves, zombies, and such) out there, the one I’ve had the most complicated relationship with is vampires. I went through a pretty intense vampire phase. Didn’t we all? Yes…? We’re gonna go with yes. Moving on! I consumed so much vampire media, though, that I eventually burnt myself out. I wanted nothing to do with the fanged horrors that stalked the night, no matter how they were presented. So it was probably a good thing I had NO IDEA this book was heavily centered around vampires before I signed up for the tour because I would have missed out on an incredible tale!
The Gilded King is a post-apocalyptic novel that centers around two main characters. First, there is Julia, a servant who has spent her whole life trapped in the Blue, one of the last uncontaminated cities in the entire world. Her days are filled with drudgery, but she prefers that than having to deal with the Nobles, the ruling class in the Blue. That’s until she is thrust into being an Attendant for Lucas, a young Noble who turns what she thought she knew about them on it’s head. Second, there is Cameron. Cameron is a Noble, himself, but he spends more time out in the Red, the contaminated zone, than he does at home as he searches the country for the city’s lost queen. They’re both trying to survive as best they know how, but a storm is coming to the Blue that they may be powerless to stop.
Okay, you know I love me a book with fantastic characters, so let’s talk about Julia and Cameron for a hot second. I loved them both quite a bit! Josie Jaffrey built these characters with such depth and humanity that it was easy for me to fall into their stories. Julia is tough, smart, but still has a side that wants to believe in fairytales. Cameron is a disaster, but I love him for it! In all seriousness, he has such a good heart and it’s interesting to see that battle with the nature of what he is. I will say, Julia had a “not-like-other-girls” moment that had me rolling my eyes. Still, I felt like it was handled well and it didn’t completely make me want to toss the book across the room. Which is a good thing since I was reading this on my phone 😂 The side characters, the ones that interact with our main characters the most, are equally enchanting, though I did want to strangle a few of them. Hey, if your characters can elicit such strong feelings in me, I always take it as a good sign!
Since we’re already talking about the characters, we might as well delve into the romance. Y’all know that romance in YA fantasy is… not my favorite. Mostly because it can feel rushed and insta-lovey and forced. Not every YA story needs a romance! That being said… I kinda loved the romance(s) in this book. I dunno, they just made my heart do a little pitter-patter! I’m not saying it’s not insta-lovey. It kind of is, especially in Julia’s case. But, and this is a testament to Jaffrey’s writing I think, it just worked! I swooned in all the right places and there may or may not have been some flailing involved during certain scenes, lol. And, the best part, it didn’t feel forced and it didn’t detract from the story.
Next, we have to talk about the world-building because *chef’s kiss* Jaffrey creates this incredible world, layered over our own, that just completely pulls you in! I suppose that makes sense as this is a story set in a larger universe she has created (the Silverse, if you’re curious). I was today years old when I found out that most of the books Josie Jaffrey has written are set in the universe! With that much history, it’s no wonder that it feels complex and interesting and real. I also don’t feel like I missed out on a lot of world-building having not read any of her other books; there’s plenty in this one story to make me understand (to an extent… there has to be ✨i n t r i g u e✨) the kind of place I’ve found myself in. It’s really captivating and it makes me want to pick up all the other books that Jaffrey has based in the Silverse! The plot was also rather well-paced, with only a few moments that felt like they dragged a teensy bit. This was still a quick and engaging read that had me flying through the pages!
Final thoughts: This book was incredible paranormal tale that keeps you engaged from page one until the very end! There is intrigue, there is action, and there’s even a dash of romance. Ya know… for flavor *wink* The characters are beautifully crafted and will make you invested in their story as you get to know them. The world-building makes you want to know more and more about what’s going on in this strange, yet familiar landscape. And the plot keeps you flipping those pages because you just need to know what’s going to happen! If you’re a fan of fantasy that has twisty plots, heart-stopping action, and, yes, vampires, then I think you would love The Gilded King!