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Reviewed by Robin Goodfellow for Readers' Favorite
Caroline and the Gilded Gauntlet, by B.B. Morgan, is a fast-paced adventure about standing up for yourself, even if it means forsaking the world you once knew. Caroline Eversole is the daughter of a wealthy merchant, who longs for freedom. One day, while visiting her friend, Phineas, she encounters an old crone who screams that she will bring ruin. Shaken and disturbed, Caroline endeavors to move on with her life. However, before she knows it, she is thrust into a situation where she must save herself from becoming a scapegoat for her father’s crimes. Armed with only her intelligence, and with new allies appearing from amongst the darkest shadows, Caroline must find her father to make him pay for what he’s done. In this enchanting story, Morgan shows that, despite what others may think of you, you must do what you have to do to save yourself and salvage your pride.
I’ll admit, I was a bit annoyed with Caroline in the first half of the book. She allowed other people to decide who she was and who she will be; the only inkling of independence she had was through Phineas. But even then her notions of freedom were more than romanticized; after all, those women at the docks weren’t there because they wanted to be. But when she realized she was going to take the blame for her father’s crimes, she decide to reclaim her fallen pride by finding him. She continued to earn my respect when she was forced to fight in the ring, and more so when she took down Talbot Ghost. She proved herself time and time again that she wasn’t some wallflower waiting to be married off, that she didn’t need anyone to decide for her. I especially loved her relationship with Phineas.
A prominent theme in the story was that you have to decide your own fate. Caroline had broken tradition, deciding that she would no longer be a victim of circumstance. Phineas wanted to follow his own path before he “retires” as king, and even then I don’t think he’ll completely let go of his inventions. The pirates in the story also represented a semblance of the freedom they were both looking for. Though the punishment for piracy was steep, those pirates continued to live their lives without deferring to anyone. It was an aspect of the book that I liked. Caroline’s coming-of-age story was wonderful, and the fantastical narrative was also enjoyable. I did wish more of the details were fleshed out, but the characters more than made up for it. I would recommend this book to fans of Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George and I, Coriander by Sally Gardner.